An Encounter Longing

This was getting ridiculous. For almost three hours, Kazuo tried to understand what was wrong with Entity 297's file, but nothing he did worked. He was close to giving up, but he knew that wasn't in his nature. Grabbing a bottle of almond water, he sent an email to the database manager he was assigned to.

To: moc.liamkcab|motorx#moc.liamkcab|motorx
From: moc.liamkcab|arumihsink#moc.liamkcab|arumihsink
Re: Entity 297

Hey there, Xavier. I wanted to email you about Entity 297. Its file is all sorts of screwed up. I thought we had an intact version? Either you gave me a faulty USB or someone's messed with this file. When's the earliest I can come over and we can check it out?

While he waited, Kazuo decided to see if he could discover anything else wrong with the site to bring it up to his database manager, Xavier. Going through the site's source he didn't see anything wrong… other than the acres of blank code. What was going on here? This shouldn't be happening. If he was following the code he saw, then technically he wouldn't be able to anything at all. It was all gone.

"What the hell is going on here? This makes no sense. First there's errors and now no code at all?" Kazuo couldn't understand what was happening. He had never seen an error like this. As he dragged his cursor across the page, he noticed that some of the error messages were clickable. Odd. After clicking them, the errors opened up a collapsible and showed hidden text. This didn't answer any of his questions; instead, it left him with more. Just before he was about to unwind, he saw an email notification on his computer. Opening the clickable brought him back to his email inbox.

To: moc.liamkcab|arumihsink#moc.liamkcab|arumihsink
From: moc.liamkcab|motorx#moc.liamkcab|motorx
Re: Entity 297

Come on over. My door's open.

Great news. He got up, stretched, and pulled out the USB drive from the computer. Grabbing a few other important things, Kazuo began his walk through Level 11 and towards Xavier's workplace. On the way there, he decided to stop by a few shops and get some food. He was pretty hungry, and he thought Xavier might be as well. Can't go wrong being considerate for others. While he was getting food, his mind ran wild with possibilities for how this might be happening. How would that file be edited? Xavier had put it on a complete edit lock for anyone below his permissions — basically everyone. Were the Overseers just pranking us? Was there an entity somehow breaking the code? This was way out of his expertise.

Food in hand and USB in his pocket, he made his way towards Xavier's apartment. On the way upstairs he greeted a few people he knew and chatted with one of his close-time buddies, Sebastian. The two hadn't caught up in a while, and they planned to go on a lunch meet next week. Good times, but Kazuo had other things he needed to be doing. Saying goodbye to Sebastian, he opened Xavier's door and enter the room.

It was tidy. Very, very clean, as Xavier was known for. A large server lined one of the walls, and there he was messing with a few parts. Kazuo chuckled a bit and set the food down. "It seems like every other day you're either typing away or messing with this damn server." He approached Xavier and stood beside him, seeing what he was messing with. Looked like some ripped wires. "Well, when you're a database manager, you can't really do much more than this," Xavier replied. Though it may look boring to Kazuo, Xavier seemed happy. He liked computers, and messing around with them was his forte. "What did you want to show me? Entity 297's file?"

"Yeah, the whole thing is screwed up. You'll wanna see this." Kazuo hands Xavier the USB and they both sit down. Xavier does a quick check-over on the USB to make sure nothing is broken (since Kazuo might not have seen what he could see) and plugs it into the computer. A ding comes up and he opens the USB's storage, double-clicking on Entity 297's file. "What the hell? This is incredibly broken," an astonished Xavier responded. "I swear I edited this thing four days ago, solidifying the file lock. I don't understand what's going on here. Every edit would have to go through me first."

"That's why I was so confused. I know you wouldn't let this happen with an important file, so that's why I came to you first." Kazuo leaned back in the chair and sipped on some water, watching Xavier's eyes focus on the screen. "I brought some food, you hungry?"

"Yeah, I'm pretty hungry. What did you get? If you got some of that cardboard pizza again I'll hang you upside down." He laughs slightly after breaking the trance-like stare he had on his computer. Looking up, he'd yawn and lean back in his chair. Kazuo laughed alongside him and goes to the box of food he got earlier. "Nope, actually got something good today. Good 'ol fried chicken. Thought you might like it." Kazuo returned with the box of chicken, placing it on the table between them. After opening it, they both grabbed a piece and started eating.

A few moments went by, and they reminisced on some past memories. Xavier was talking about the M.E.G.'s internal operations, staff changes, and new discoveries. "I'm pretty sure we won't ever find the end to this damn place," Kazuo replied. He should really keep in touch with his friends more. Once they finished eating they cleaned up and returned to the computer, looking at the screen. "So was there anything else or just these error codes?" Xavier asks. Error codes he could fix. Those weren't too much of an issue. "Nah, lots more. Gimme the mouse." Xavier hands him the mouse, and Kazuo shows him the hidden text and the contradicting file code. Xavier is stunned, and Kazuo takes notice. "See what I mean? It makes no damn sense. Is something trying to talk to us through the file? Did someone slip under your nose and we're just being pranked?"

"No no, this definitely wasn't a person." Xavier takes the mouse back and checks the properties of the file. Under the "Updates" tab, he sees that there were changes made by an unknown user. Someone with Administrator permissions on a local terminal. Unfortunately for them, they couldn't tell where this terminal may be located. "Something is using this file."

"Should we take this up with Good Feels? They're the ones that specialize with this thing…" Kazuo would look at Xavier as he stared at the computer. Xavier turns to him and nods. "Yeah, that would be our best bet. Let's get outta here." They get up and start packing. An hour goes by, and the two are ready to embark. They leave the safety of Level 11 and embark to look for the feeling of calmness reminiscent of Level 197, but end up looking for the Void Hallway. It was the fastest way, after all. Xavier feels the calmness and leaves Kazuo on his own, looking for it. Gulping the daunting task down his throat, Kazuo gains his pride and begins to wander.

Hours go by, it feels, and Kazuo finally reaches the Void Hallway. Although he hasn't been here before, he remembers what Xavier told him: walk forward, go to the middle of the hall, and keep your eyes open. Looking at the floor, he walks forward going at a quick pace. He isn't scared, but this place is infested with Smilers. Best not to take chances. As he approaches the third quarter of the hall, he no-clips through, landing rear-first onto the hard diabase of Level 197. The calamity takes over, and it takes some determination for him to get up. Getting here was tough enough, but breaks can come later. He pulls out his phone to see if the Wi-Fi worked here, which it doesn't, so he had to rely on a map given to him by Xavier to get to Good Feels. Odd name for an outpost, but it worked for the environment.

As he made his way through the caves, he came upon Good Feels, meeting up with Xavier. "Took ya long enough, Kaz!" Xavier jokingly punched him on the shoulder and Kazuo laughed a bit.

"When you have to rely on a crummy map in a place where you randomly no-clip, it gets kinda hard!" As they joked around, the two entered the outpost, going to find a commander who knew more about the situation than they did.

Hours go by, and no progress was made. While Xavier was talking with the outpost commander Kazuo was resting his legs, drinking some distilled water. It was nice tasting actual water again after years of tasting almonds. He was about to dig into a sandwich he had packed, but he could hear something in the distance. Like an echo off of the cave walls.

Hey, you! We need help! Need help? That's the lamest lure I've ever heard!

It sounded like an argument in whispers. Not really out of place for the Backrooms, but the argument itself sounded odd. He put the sandwich away, got up, and began to walk towards the sounds. As he walks through the caves, everything begins to tune out, and only the whispers remain.

Come closer! We need help!
Hey, help us! Please!
One of our friends is hurt!
Do you have a first aid kit?
No, but he might.

Laughter ensues after the last whisper, yet Kazuo continues his approach. He couldn't hear Xavier behind him yelling to stop. He couldn't hear Xavier's panic. There were injured people, and they needed his help. He had a first aid kit, and he couldn't let someone stay there hurting. With his shoes tapping against the diabase floor, he turns the corner to where the whispers were coming from, just to be faced with never-ending darkness. The Turquoise Zone didn't have dark spots… did it?

There wasn't any time to think, as when he turned around to look at Xavier approaching, he slipped and fell backwards, falling into the pitch black hole. The temperature drops steady as he falls, and something scratches his arm. Just a moment later he hits the ground with a loud bang, feeling something crack. In pain he got up, trying to see if he could hold onto something. It was so dark here. "What in the…" With his voice echoing through the cave he could hear the onyx crystals hum and rattle. As he walks through the zone, his arm sears in pain and he hisses, lightly dragging his hand over his arm to see what was wrong. He could feel that there was a very long gash going all the way from his elbow to his wrist. With the first aid kit, Kazuo wrapped his arm in bandages. For now, this would have to do until he was able to escape from this place.

Calling out to make sure he didn't run into any spikes, Kazuo began to make his way through Zone 4. It was difficult, and he had a few close calls with some larger crystals, but he walked unharmed.

The Sovereign was minding his business, wandering the halls of what he had created. He didn't know why he liked black, but it had a certain feel that he enjoyed. What he didn't enjoy right now were the voices that were laughing at Kazuo for coming to help someone that he thought was a wanderer.

He was so dumb! Why did he come to help?
Who knows? Maybe he's just a helpful person.
We're whispers in a completely safe part of this place! Why would he think that we're someone that needs help?

He was about done with these whispers arguing. They had gone on enough about this new wanderer who had fallen into his domain.

Enough. All of you.

The whispers silence, not wanting to annoy their lord. The Sovereign continues walking, wanting to find this "Kazuo." He sounded like someone who would easily be respectful, and maybe even the Sovereign could respect him. The notion goes both ways, after all. After around ten more minutes the Sovereign could hear Kazuo calling out in the distance.

There is the new arrival. Let me see what we have…

As Kazuo dealt with the pain in his arm, he saw two bright orbs down the tunnel. He didn't even need to see the crown above its head to know that he was looking dead at the Sovereign. Almost immediately, he fell to his knee, showing respect to the Sovereign

Very respectful of you. The Sovereign stops in front of Kazuo, towering over the man. The entity could easily be 12 feet tall, maybe even higher. "O-Of course. It'd be rude to not be after walking in here randomly." The whispers all around him laugh, seemingly picking up on a joke that Kazuo didn't get. "What's so f-funny?"

You think she would be the Sovereign? You're funny!
Granted, he's never heard his liege's voice before.
Then let him hear!

The voices egg on the Sovereign, wanting him to speak. He hasn't talked to a wanderer before, using the whispers as his form of communication, so this would be a new territory he'd be entering. The entity makes eye contact with Kazuo and begins to talk.

Your name is Kazuo, correct? What brings you to my domain?

The Sovereign's voice would be deep but airy, with a light pronunciation to everything he said. Kazuo could make out no mouth, face, or hair. Instead he could just see the dark onyx body of the beast, which was polygonal in every area. No part of its body was rounded. He thought he could make out a large great-sword in the Sovereign's right hand, but he was more focused on looking it back in the eyes.

Kazuo was very intimidated, but he knew that he had to show respect. Swallowing his fear from the entity looming over him, he replies as steadily as he can. "Yes, Kazuo Nishimura. I was lured here by the whispers that s-surround you, and I thought that they were someone hurt on Zone 1, but after I turned the corner I slipped and fell here."

I see. Other than your arm are you in good health?

"Yeah, I'm fine other than that. T-those crystals are fucking sharp."

I apologize for the injuries you have sustained. Where do you wish to go?

"I'm not… really sure. If you don't mind actually, I'd like to explore this place a b-bit more." Kazuo liked the onyx zone. It had a feeling of calamity and focus that he hadn't felt in a very long time. It was almost like if someone had injected him with adrenaline, though that could easily just be his body's reaction to receiving a large cut on his arm. Almost as if his body heard his thoughts, the injury flared up again and he groaned, holding his arm in pain.

There is nothing interesting about this place other than darkness. I do not think you will find anything enjoyable here.

"Who said you can't enjoy the darkness? I mean, there's so much of it in the Backrooms anyways. But this place…it's quiet, the cool breeze flowing past me. The lack of horrible abominations trying to tear me apart. Your home. It's beautiful, and I don't have to be able to see it to know that." While talking to the Sovereign Kazuo got to… know it more. He wasn't that scared anymore by its intimidating appearance. The being was something that you could talk to. Something that you could possibly even relate to. He moved his arm to make sure blood kept flowing.

I… have never had someone tell that to me. I thank you for your compliments. Please, spend some time with me here.

The smoke surrounding the Sovereign, which Kazuo could barely make out, would form a hand and grab onto Kazuo's, guiding him through the sharpened halls. As the Sovereign led Kazuo through the tunnels of the cave, he could feel the cool air run by him, chilling his ears and nose. It wasn't an uncomfortable cold like that of winter, but more of the breeze that runs by on a nice autumn day. Just on the border of too chilly.

"So, those whispers. Who exactly is talking?" Kazuo wondered about why there were so many, how they talked, who they might be, and questions following that topic. Hopefully, he wasn't being too intrusive, because he could tell that the being had a sense of emotion. It had boundaries, but being a part of the M.E.G. brought its rules.

They are people that have disrespected me as humans. I do not take kindly to it, so I kill them. Their voices stay with me as a sort of…memory. I do not force them to stay. They simply stick with me.

The Sovereign leads Kazuo through the tunnels. He couldn't see anything at all other than the entity guiding him. The silence was chilling in itself. This place was so dark and so devoid that Kazuo imagined there'd be more people here yelling for help. Maybe he just got lucky and was chosen to fall in, or the more likely chance that it was from his own mistakes that led him to be here. "Huh. Do you get a lot of visitors in that case? Sounds like there's a fair few."

I used to before I made sure people did not come in. When there were many people they did not know of my ideals, and at that moment I did not want to deal with any more visitors. Now I greatly yearn for more visitors that are able to enter my domain.

The entity sounds… saddened. Like it's been alone with these voices for too long. His voice echoes across the empty cavern walls, making the onyx crystals slightly rattle. Kazuo takes in his words, nodding. "Well, luckily there was a conveniently placed hole, so guess I'm here now. How long's it been since you've had anyone show up?" The Sovereign pauses. It had stopped moving, and was looking down at the ground in front of it. The beast had a sense of longing when it talked, like it wanted to see more people again.

It has been… 11 months. The last person to come here had an exploration party of very rude people. I let all but one leave alive.

"I see. This is a nice place but man, I couldn't imagine not seeing a single soul for that long. I'm sorry." Kazuo could feel the Sovereign's pain, but couldn't relate to it. This being must have been so alone, and he was impressed that the beast hasn't gone crazy yet. Did it need to eat? Drink? Did it have the same emotional connections to people as humans did? So many questions flew through his mind as he stood with it.

Nonsense. You have nothing to be sorry for. It is by my own blind selfishness that I put myself in this exile. You must be on your way. Staying in this dimension for too long will do certain things to your body that you will not enjoy.

Kazuo smiles, looking up at the Sovereign. "I understand. My biggest thanks to you for having me here. May we meet again some other day, Sovereign."

You are the most respectful person I have met in my domain. What makes you this way?

It was true. The Sovereign had either met people that were scared for their lives or people that were very rude to him. It had never met someone as calm as Kazuo, who was able to ask questions without a wavering voice or snap back in an obnoxious manner. It was quite surprising, to say the least.

"Well, I guess it's just how open minded I became after I got here. At first it was very surprising seeing other peaceful entities that looked strange, but eventually I couldn't care less what something or someone looks like. I was more focused on their motives, so someone like you doesn't really bother me. Here we are talking, just an average human and a mythical being having a nice conversation. Is that a reason to be disrespectful to you? I sure don't think so." He looked up at where he thought the Sovereign's head might be, and could just barely see the crown hovering in the air.

I see. You were welcome to return here if you see the darkness. Be sure not to injure your arm again. Take this as a gift. Someone as respectable as yourself should receive it.

The Sovereign would be offering Kazuo what felt like a sheathed sword, and it had considerable weight to it. As he drug his hand across its sheathe and to the hilt it had a feel of fiber and metal. He knew this feeling all too well — a Japanese katana. He had used one when he was back home to spar, defend himself, and do other morally questionable things. It wasn't sunshine and rainbows for everyone. "Oh wow…thanks. This is gorgeous." Kazuo attempts to do his best to see the weapon, failing due to the darkness. "But, I will be more careful next time, thank you so much." He seems amazed at the Sovereign's kind gesture.

The exit is behind you. I do wish I see you again.

Kazuo could hear the slightest hint of static behind him, but it sounded so loud with how quiet the fourth zone was. He smiles softly, nodding. "Until next time. I'd love to come again when I get the chance." Hearing the static behind him, he turns around, walking into it. He's no-clipped back into Zone 1, able to hear the commotion of the outpost nearby. As he goes to get medical attention, he can see that he's carrying a katana. It would be smooth, unlike the Sovereign itself, and lightweight after he left the Onyx Zone. He eventually finds his way back to "Good Feels," and with what he had gathered, Kazuo goes to Xavier after getting medical attention. "Figured out what edited that file."

"Oh?" Xavier looks back at Kazuo. He was really worried about what had happened to his friend, but if Kazuo wanted to talk about that damned file, then they'd talk about it.

"The Dark Sovereign was editing its own file." He sharply inhales, a pang of pain going through his arm.

"How did you come to that conclusion? The Sovereign doesn't just have a computer, does it?" Xavier would be immensely confused. How could an entity they know nothing about edit a file, and even then how would it know about the database?

"Hear me out, yeah? It never told me that explicitly, but after talking with it I could tell that it was editing its own file on the database. I don't even want to think how it did it, but… it was lonely. If you were with me you could tell that it was speaking from the heart." After explaining, Kazuo took a sip of almond water, sitting down.

The Sovereign, meanwhile, was now alone once again. The voices rambled on about whatever they wanted to ramble about.

So how is the rest of this day going to go?
Maybe we can play a game!
Yes! A game would be fun!
Maybe we could leave this place one day…
I hope we do.
What game should we play?

Although he had the voices with him, he could not share their joy, their excitement, or their happiness. As much as he tried he was always alone, and for now, he would have to accept that.

That was, of course, until something major happened.

Months later in Level 3, a hall went dark. The lighting seemed to have stopped for that particular area, and a few noises emanated from the void. Suddenly, a loud crash was heard. Items that sounded like glass were flung onto the ground, and soon enough, a few footsteps would come from the hall.

A few wanderers who were exploring the level heard the noises and got scared, pointing their weapons in the direction of the hallway.

"W-what is that?" said a female in the party. She was holding a crowbar and already seemed scared for her life. The weapon she held was trembling just as she was, and if it had loose pieces to it, you'd definitely hear them rattling.

"I'm not sure, but be ready to beat the shit out of it." Said a man, who definitely looked like the leader of this group. He had a spiked baseball bat raised up in a swinging position. He seemed much more confident in what he was about to attack.

The steps got closer, and as they got closer the sounds got heavier. Crunch, crunch, crunch.

The wanderers, confused, backed up into the light. What made that sound? There was no documented entity that sounded like glass crunches. Did the M.E.G. miss something? Were they misinformed? From the darkness, they could hear the whispers. They were very quiet at first, but as the loud footsteps got closer, the voices grew in volume.

We made it! We finally made it!
Somewhere new! Oh I'm so excited!
Woahhh, where are we?! This is so cool!
These doors look funny. Why do they have huge holes in them?
This is definitely interesting… I hope there are friendly things here.
Or maybe there are more dangerous ones.

"Who's there?!" The party leader would shout. Although he tried to sound determined, his friends could hear his fear.

Just a being that is very happy to be free. Who are you?

And out stepped the Sovereign, illuminated by the light hanging in between them.

rating: +37+x
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