Silverware, chopsticks, buttons, writing quills…still needs improving…but a gun…

Argus fires at the target, hitting just left of dead center “Better…”

He makes some adjustments, the floating, moving parts of his Jeiidtech arm adjust and recalibrate. As a prototype went, it was functional, weighty, and the energy circulation system functioned wonderfully. It would need some tweaking, He needed to get the prosthetic experts into a room to design his combat arm, adding some bells and whistles, maybe a blade.

He sets down his gun, focusing his energy into the arm, watching the lights glow brighter, reaching the energy max in no time, taking down the readings with his off hand, a bit sloppy but legible.

“Power output on prototype arm, reaching 62% of my maximum output, acceptable levels for general model. Combat model will need to exceed 150% to accommodate Lich Cloak and ritual outputs, will submit for testing.”

As he finishes his testing, Fenton appears along with Seven cloaked figures, all the same height and build.

“Ah, wonderful, I apologize for recalling you all so suddenly, but as you can see, some changes have happened.” He articulates his point by wiggling his fingers.

“But first things first…. Khilbron.”

The hooded figures twitch, before pulling down their hoods, each one with shaved bald heads, all straddling the line of androgyny, pale skinned humans. They blink slowly, and each stand at attention as they see him without their hoods.

“Good morning my Spectres…”

“Good morning Lord of Phantoms!” they all respond in unison.

“Today, we will be testing your loyalty, a test I am loathe to enact, but it must be done. As you all know, your purpose is to be my body doubles, to act in my name within our world, and slip back into your normal lives without seam.”

He paces, watching their expressions, some had fear, others were stalwart, some refused to look him in the eye.

Fenton brings out a contraption, a set of wooden blocks, with a hold in the center, and a towering guillotine blade hanging from the top.

“You will each step forward, and place your arm in the hole, and sacrifice your arm, as well as the lives you have been living.”

There is concerned murmurs before Fenton snaps his head back to give them a look, their gaze moved to the floor.

“I know it is a lot to ask, we have statements prepared, and it is a sacrifice I never wanted to ask of you…but it is necessary.”

One by one, the resolved themselves, and stepped forward.

Chop.Chop.Chop.Chop.Chop.Chop

Six arms in a neat pile, not a scream, even as the cauterizing brand sealed the wound closed, and the healers molded over the stump.

The seventh stands before the machine, hands twitching, fear filling them, and soon…overwhelming them. The lunge for Argus, gripping onto his coat “Please my lord, not my arm, I have taken on the life of a smith, I cannot support my family with one arm!”

Argus is quiet, glancing to the side, spotting the softly glowing blue eyes peeking out from their hiding place.

“You’ve been under for too long, it would be unwise to continue your service to me.” He cups their face, smiling softly, removing his mask to plant a small kiss onto their forehead.

They smile, seeing his face, his glowing eyes, knowing his secrets,  shaking like a leaf, bowing to him, and sprinting away, running back to the life they believe is there waiting for them.

Bang!

The body drops, the last thoughts passing their their mind, before the bullet, were of peace, and a life well lived.

Argus sets his gun down, still smoking, moving his free hand up to his face, wiping a tear from his eyes.

He looked down to his gun, then to the body.

“Still a little left….but better..”

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