I lie awake at night, unable to receive even the faintest glimpse of the world of slumber.

My pillow is too hard, my mattress is too firm, my body aches from hours of sparring practice with brand-new F-Rank [Warriors,] and my heart is heavy from the knowledge that I am growing ever-more complicit in the terrible things to come.

The U.S. government wants to invade the multiverse and take over other worlds so it can harvest their resources and bring benefit to Earth. If they succeed, I will have created a new empire so vast that no one but The Goddess herself will be able to stand in her way.

But I can also do nothing to stop it, not that I can think of. Not while my powers are... like this. I’m a prisoner, a slave. And my only ability beyond doing what is asked of me is to sleep and dream in my nearly useless ghostly form on Mystix; I am trapped there, too.

But that’s not correct. There is one more ability I have but it is extremely specific: [Empathetic Link.]

When I try very hard, when I put my greatest effort forward, I am able to send out my thoughts and emotions to my link partner, Francis. Every single night, I try to send something, and occasionally it does indeed make it past the psychic barrier that this facility is seemingly encased in.

And, lately, Francis as been replying. Always it has been rude, angry responses, but I am convinced that things may change. That I may be able to apologize.

{Francis? Francis, are you here? I want to speak to you.}


Nothing in return.

I just have to put more willpower into it.

{Francis, I’m sorry! Please forgive me!}

{...Are we really doing this again?} Francis replies through thoughts alone.

Yes, finally! {Francis, will you accept my apology?}

{No. For the last time, no.}

{I truly do mean it, though.}

{All you do is say sorry, dude,} Francis says. {What are you even sorry for? Being my friend?}

{No, absolutely not I’m sorry because I was a poor friend. I misread situations and misunderstood you and was unable to overcome my self-centered outlook on life. My faults hurt your life, and I know there is nothing I can do to reverse any of that.}

{...Yeah, you’re right. You can’t take any of it back.}

{All I wanted was to make you happy, but I did so in the worst way possible. If there is anything I can do to make it up to you, I will do so.}

There is a notable, prolonged silence in our shared thoughts.

{Why did you leave?} Francis asks.

{I didn’t want to.}

{Where are you now?}

{I’m in captivity,} I tell him. {A great force has captured me. The United States government itself. I have been a prisoner for one year, and so I have been unable to go anywhere. I have had to train my mind this entire time to be able to send these thoughts out to you.}

{Huh...} I sense some sort of warmth from Francis’s mind, all of a sudden. Then it goes cold after that brief second. {I guess that explains it. Good to know. See you.}

{Wait! Francis, please... I am not making an excuse for my actions. The clone I created acted on his own path, but it was still my own self that did those terrible things. And, of course, creating this very [Empathetic Link] between us was all my doing. I cannot reverse it, and so I can only express my deepest apologies.}


{I was wrong, and I hurt you. Please forgive me. But if you do not, I will accept that as well. I will sever my entire Destiny Deck System if it means ending our connection, if you wish it.}

Another pause. {Nah. I accept it.}

{Please, Francis, I—What?}

{I accept your apology,} he says. {I’ve been really bitter all this time, and I think I’ve started to hate myself. I even got in a big fight with Delta a couple weeks ago. It got me thinking about things, and... Maybe I’m sorry, too.}

{I cannot accept that,} I say. {You have no need for an apology.}

{Dude, I’ve been a total dick too.}

{You most certainly have not!} I exclaim.

{Have too,} Francis says.

{Have not!}

{Have too.}

{Have not!}

{Have not.}

{Have too!} I shout, and then stop in confusion at all of this.

And then I hear, or rather feel, laughter coming from Francis. I laugh, too.

Finally, for just one short moment, we are friends once more.

It fades soon after, but for this time, it is as if nothing had ever changed between us.

{So, where does that leave us?} I ask him.

{Where should it?} Francis asks in return.

{I cannot leave this prison of mine,} I say. {So our thoughts will be the only method for us to communicate, possibly ever again.}

{Want me to come free you or something?}

{That would be incredibly foolish.}

{You’re a big fool,} he retorts.

{For you.} He asks an interesting question, though. He has forgiven me, and I have apologized profusely, but what else can we do? {Perhaps we can attempt to mend our friendship, one building block at a time, but it will take a long time and hard work. Keeping these conversations with you is incredibly draining to my mental state.}

{Mine too,} he says. {What kind of a prison are you even in? It’s so hard to feel your emotions.}

{One with specially designed psychic barriers,} I say. It’s fairly horrible. Extremely lonely.}

{But if we both train, maybe it’ll get easier.}

{If you are willing to do it,} I say, {I will be glad to join you in that training.}


Perhaps we may be able to salvage our friendship after all. Perhaps life in captivity may have a silver lining in its thick, dark cloudiness.


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About the author

B. A. Baker (Thedude3445)

Bio: I like to watch movies.

Avatar art by Bryan Lee O'Malley.

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