Chapter 1: A New Start
"Class, we have a new student joining us today." announced a male teacher, Mr. Walleigh as he gestured for the new student to enter. Her long, cherry red hair fluttered as she stepped towards the podium and in front of the class, her blue eyes glued to the floor. She was wearing a dark brown leather jacket, black t-shirt, and dark blue jeans that were tattered at the end slightly. She was wearing a pair of cherry blossom pink sneakers that were scuffed from constant wear and tear. Mr. Walleigh placed a slight hand on her shoulder and smiled. "Say hello to Cheritana."
"Hi Cheritana~" greeted the classroom, her gaze flickering up slightly and then back to the floor.
"She is a little shy, but I'm sure you all will get along splendidly with her." Bending down slightly he pointed to a row of tables to her right. "You can sit in that empty seat near the middle. Right next to Yonk."
Looking up slightly again, she looked at this 'Yonk' that Mr. Walleigh had directed her to. Yonk had short, platinum hair that just barely covered his ears. His violet eyes were boring into her, almost reading her soul. He was wearing a white hoodie with a dark purple undershirt, a matching pair of dark purple fatigues, and a pair of black combat boots with a purple pattern near the heel. "You just gonna to keep staring at me or something?" Yonk spat out, resting his head on one of his hands.
Shaking her head hastily, she sat down in the seat next to him.
"Cheritana, huh? How about we shorten that name for ya." Yonk suggested, waving his hand slightly in a lackluster attitude. "I'll call ya Cherry."
"Wouldn't be a surprise to me in the least. Everyone I've met has nicknamed me that." Cherry curtly responded, narrowing her eyes at him and crossing her arms. "If you were going for originality, you failed that by a landslide."
"Heh hah. Fiesty one, aren't ya?" He leaned back in his chair, swinging one leg over the other and resting his elbows on the back of his chair. A grin stretched on his lips as his violet eyes locked onto her. "I like that."
"Glad to have won your approval there, Yonk." Cherry sarcastically snarled under her breath.
"Today is a free day, class. You have great timing, Cheritana." Mr. Walleigh smiled, stepping behind his desk and sitting down in his cushioned swivel chair.
"If I had such great timing, then..." she muttered, locking her gaze to the floor. Quickly shaking that thought away, she focused on scanning her surroundings.
'Mother taught me how to check other individuals without actually peering into their souls... if only she were here now.' Her thoughts drifted to a darker place in her mind. 'No. I can't let these dark thoughts blind me from my goals. It's these thoughts that are preventing me from accomplishing that.'
'I have to start anew, but I can't forget. If I forget the reason I'm even here... then what would be the point to all this suffering?'
"Cherry." Yonk practically yanked her from her thoughts, causing her to cast a glare towards him. "What's your next class?"
"Magic Sciences. Why?" Cherry asked, reaching into her pocket to dig out her written schedule.
"I think we're in the same classes. Almost like the school board WANTED us to be in the same classes."
"What gives you that idea?"
"Just a hunch, really." Just as Cherry was going to ask him further questions, the bell rang and forced her attention towards the P.A system. "Just stick to me and there won't be any problems, got it Cherry Bomb?"
"Cherry Bomb?" she grumbled out as he casually walked by her. Hastily following behind him, Cherry focused only on Yonk as he walked down the hallway to their next class. "Who's the teacher?"
"Dr. Gaster. He's a scientist from the Monster Society. He seems like he doesn't have emotions to me. Guy never shows it." Yonk explained, stopping in front of a locker and turning the dial a few times. "You're going to need a notebook. Dr. Gaster throws a lot of interesting theories at ya that ya can't resist but question or look further into." Grabbing a red, 5 subject notebook, Yonk tossed it towards Cherry who snatched it out of the air. "Nice catch there, Cherry Bomb. I bet Dr. Gaster's assistant will be happy to meet ya."
"Who's his assistant?"
"Trust me, it's better if you meet him yourself. The dude's a headtrip." Yonk gestured with his free arm to follow him. Stepping into a rather large classroom, Cherry eyed the few students who were waiting in their seats. Their gaze wandered over to her, causing her to go rigid for a moment as she continued to scan her surroundings. Spotting someone turned towards a computer monitor, Cherry noticed that his face was a pale ivory color. He had two cracks on his face, one jutted up from his eye and to the top of his skull, and the other descending from his other eye and to his mouth.
"You must be Cheritana Teknianu." he matter-of-factly spoke.
"Yes, sir." Cherry replied with a hint of discomfort in her voice.
"Excellent." Finishing up what he was typing, he turned to face Cherry and nodded to Yonk. "I see you have made acquaintance with Mr. Rhapsodi. That is good. He will assist you in catching up with our lectures. You will need to learn everything in this class to understand any of it."
"I would imagine so, sir." she replied rigidly again.
"Go ahead and take a seat next to Mr. Rhapsodi. Class will begin momentarily." Dr. Gaster returned to his monitor, typing furiously on his keyboard. Taking a chance at glancing at Yonk, Cherry was met with the most stone-cold stare she had ever seen in her life. Yonk turned abruptly and paced towards a desk near the front of the classroom. Sitting down, he locked eyes with Cherry, his violet eyes seemed like a magenta shade with the way his eyes bore into hers.
"Is... there a problem?" she nervously inquired, rubbing her right arm in an equally nervous pattern.
"What's so special about YOU?" Yonk snarled out, Cherry taking a small step backwards from his threatening glare. "Dr. Gaster is exceptionally cold to all of the students. But with YOU? He acts all chummy with ya!"
"Chummy? Hardly. I can sense his status within the monster community. Not only that..." Cherry began.
"sup, kiddo?" called an all too familiar voice. Turning around, Cherry met the gaze of a smaller skeleton, his pinpricks of lights in his eyesockets locked onto her. His blue hoodie was cleaner than usual to her, his shorts were replaced with a pair of black jeans, and he was wearing a pair of blue sneakers. "sorry i'm late, dr. gaster."
"I will allow THIS tardiness, Sans. Do not abuse the privilege." Dr. Gaster responded, stepping up to Cherry and placing a comforting hand on her shoulder. "Though I do not normally believe in such things, I have faith in this one."
"A-Am I m-missing something here?" Cherry stuttered, her eyes blown wide at the unusual gesture from Dr. Gaster. He smiled down at her, then proceeded to walk back to his desk. Her entire body froze up, her eyes glued to the spot in front of her, her brain struggling to comprehend the strange gesture from a monster that according to Yonk, is rather cold towards the other students. "Wha-... I-... huh?"
"heh heh. cat got yer tongue there, cherrypie?" Sans chortled, grabbing a nearby chair and pulling it up to sit in front of her.
"Mr. Snowdin, could you explain to me what that was just now?" Yonk seemingly demanded, his tone dry and serious.
"sorry, kid. can't tell ya what the old man was doing." Sans leaned forward, pressing his hand on top of Cherry's head and ruffling her hair slightly. "as for this? cherry here is my adoptive kid. been looking after her for 6 years now."
"Adoptive? Your parents aren't home often, are they?" Yonk turned his questioning to Cherry, her eyes dim and foggy.
"I don't want to talk about it." Cherry mumbled. She distinctly heard a very low rumble coming from Sans, then immediately recognized it as a sort of growl. "I understand you are curious, but this is a subject I do not want to discuss with you right now."
Yonk was about to respond when the bell rang, signalling to the class that it was about to start. Dr. Gaster stood up in front of the class, his eyes gazing over every student as they sat in their designated seats. "A new student has joined the class. Ms. Teknianu, if you would?" he started her introduction.
Standing up, Cherry brushed her bangs from her eyes and looked over the class. Each student appeared to have one distinct similarity; they all had unnatural hair colors and rare eye colors. "I am Cheritana Teknianu. I hope we get along well." she announced, her voice blunt. Sitting back down, she thumbed open a page in the notebook Yonk had given her, immediately proceeding to write down information she could research later.
"Today we'll be discussing unique properties of magic. Sans, if you would please demonstrate for the class?"
"sure, doc." he responded, standing up and stopping in front of the class. Holding out his hand, he summoned a single bone that levitated in his palm. "each person has their own form of magic. it is far more common for pixies to possess magic than it is for humans. as you can plainly see, my magic is composed mostly of bones. magic is based primarily on the person's personality."
"Each human and pixie has been identified of having one of seven traits as their primary. Depending on the primary trait, depends on the resulting magic."
A student with slightly curled, purple hair raised her hand.
"Yes, Ms. Iaatu?"
"If it isn't really probable for a human to possess magic, why tell us any of this? Where's the relevance?" she inquired, standing up and gesturing to the class and herself.
"cause i actually met a human that possessed magic. it's a slim chance, but it's definitely possible. it all hinges on their willpower." Sans explained. Cherry raised her hand next, her eyes boring directly into Sans's skull. "yeah, cherrypie?"
Standing up, Cherry now focused her gaze on the class. "If magic is based on the personality of the person as well as their willpower, magic could range from the simplest of things; such as bones, to more complex creations such as weaponry, correct?"
"Yes." Gaster confirmed.
"If that is the case, wouldn't it be EQUALLY as possible for anyone to tap into their willpower and generate their own form of magic?"
"I never thought of that!"
"Who is this girl?"
Standing up from his seat beside her, Yonk turned towards the class. "There would be a flaw in this system. If everyone could tap into that magic, it would simply spark yet another war. People would become jealous of one another and all it would lead to is genocide." he barked out, his eyes shifting from the class and glaring at Cherry. "Only a fool would allow such a thing to happen."
"Which is why the human race isn't capable of manifesting magic without some form of assistance from another magic wielding individual." Gaster remarked, stepping slightly towards Cherry and looking down to her. "Mr. Rhapsodi is correct. If everyone had the ability to use magic, it would simply lead to massacre."
"What I am simply saying is this; if it is just as probable for a human to tap into large amounts of their willpower, and the type of magic would vary based on their primary trait, this would mean that anyone with a strong enough will to combat the odds would be considered as a hybrid and possess magic. That is what the legend had foretold. And if the legend is true..." Cherry began.
"You still believe in that fairy tale? BAH HAHA!" squawked a student with dark green hair. Soon, the entire class started laughing at her musings.
"It's not a fairy tale if it's true!" Cherry's eyes flashed a crimson light for a brief moment, her fists balled up slightly. "What the guardians sacrificed to preserve our world stands before us! But people like you are just blind to that sacrifice! And it's not just the Eternal Guardians from the time of the Council War that I'm referring to..."
Sans stepped up cautiously to Cherry, slinging an arm over her shoulders and pressing her into his ribcage. "c'mon kiddo. we can't go and have ya freak out on us." he attempted to soothe.
"Tell me, class; did any of you notice the flash of light when Ms. Teknianu yelled?" Gaster spoke, crossing his hands behind his back. A series of 'yes' rang out amongst the classroom. "What we just witnessed was a form of magic; untamed and unformed. Ms. Teknianu was actually correct when she said that it is just as probable for a human to use magic as it is for pixies. This would make her a hybrid if she were to tap into her willpower and manifest her unbridled magic into a concentrated form."
"Dr. Gaster, just what would that concentrated form BE?" Yonk inquired, turning his gaze from Cherry over to him.
"It would depend on the primary trait. That lesson will be reserved until tomorrow." Gaster turned his attention over to Sans; who was peering deeply into Cherry's soul. "Sans."
"yeah doc?" Sans quickly responded, looking up at him from his seat.
"Remember to bring in the trait scanner tomorrow."
"will do." Gaster nodded curtly, then brought his attention back to the class.
"Back to the topic at hand; the various properties that magic may retain, balance between common elements. These elements consist of fire, water, and nature type magic. Fire magic divides into subsections of magic; flames and temperature elevation. Flame magic is fairly self-explainatory; conjuring pillars of fire. Temperature elevation is just as self-explainatory; raising the temperature in the area to weaken the target. Water magic divides into hydro magic and ice magic. Hydro magic manipulates regular water and suspends it in a designated area. Ice magic manipulates water molecules and freezing them almost instantly, granting the wielder the ability to use the ice in a manner of methods. Nature magic divides into wind and earth. Wind magic manipulates the air around the target, using it to the wielder's advantage. Earth magic uses rocks, dirt, essentially everything solid to the wielder's every whim."
Yonk stood up, bringing everyone's attention over the silver haired boy. "So, what you are telling us is this; magic balances between the user's personality, trait, and element."
"Correct. Well done, Mr. Rhapsodi."
"That doesn't explain why mom's magic was so complex..." Cherry mumbled under her breath. Then, it hit her. Standing up, her eyes shone bright with determination. "If one of the core pieces of magic projection is based on the user's personality, isn't it true that the user's emotions may have some sort of alteration to the magic?"
Gaster's eyes went wide, then panned over to Sans. His eyesockets were dark, his normal comical smile was nothing more than a flat line. He then brought his gaze back over to Cherry, whose eyes were sparking slightly with unbridled magic. "Very good, Ms. Teknianu. Yes, magic can easily be affected by the user's emotions. Should one be feeling strong emotions while projecting magic, it is entirely possible that the output from the initial cast would be strengthend or weakened depending on the emotion felt."
"that's why it's important to keep a level head when using magic. if someone's angry and trying to, oh i don't know... use a bit of fire magic to boil some water... that person may cause an accidental explosion from their emotion." Sans stated.
'That would account for a lot of things I still don't understand... There's still a lot more questions I need answered. I just have to wait for the right moment to ask them.'
Chapter 2: Birth of Reincarnation
Cherry finally acts.
The school day had just ended and the students all parted their own ways, some stopping at their lockers to collect their things and some walking out with the books they carried. Cherry stepped out from Dr. Gaster's class, Yonk slowly following behind her. "I still wanna know how you know Mr. Snowdin. There's no way in hell that you know him that easily." he continued to interrogate.
"You're still bugging me about this? Jesus Yonk, it's been 2 weeks since we've met and you're acting like you know everything about me." Cherry groaned, continuing down the hallway towards her locker. "Got a newsflash for ya; you know NOTHING about me."
"Kinda hard to know anything about you when all you do is shut me out. If you want help with your problem, you need to let me in."
She growled under her breath, slamming her locker shut and grabbing Yonk's undershirt and pressing him against the lockers. Her eyes were a much darker shade of blue, almost fogged over with the slightest wisp of magic coursing over her right eye. "Let's get one thing clear Rhapsodi; if you so much as breathe a WORD of this, I'll rip you apart limb from limb. Got it?" Yonk nodded without even the slightest hint of fear in his expression. "Good. Now, listen close. Mr. Snowdin will be coming over here shortly to take me home. If you want to know about my problem, you're going to have to convince HIM to let you help."
"You can't just tell him?" Yonk asked in the most calm manner he could project.
"If it was that easy, I would've had this problem taken care of a long time ago. I'll try to talk to him, but no promises that he'll listen right away." Just as she let go of his shirt, Cherry spotted Sans stepping out of Dr. Gaster's classroom.
"ready to go home, cherrypie?" Sans spoke, shuffling over to the two of them. His eyelights trailed over to Yonk, silently asking him to step aside.
Yonk remained where he stood.
"c h e r r y..." Sans grumbled under his breath, his eyelights vanishing into the blackness of his eyesockets, gesturing for her to step closer to him.
"Sans... Yonk wants to help us with our 'problem'." Cherry whispered, stepping closer to Yonk and grabbing his shoulder. "I've taken my measure of him and I think he'll prove useful."
"are you sure we can trust him?"
"Either we take this chance now, or we lose it. We can't afford to wait any longer."
Stepping down, Sans's eyelights returned to his sockets and glimmered up to Yonk's violet eyes. "perserverance."
"That's the soul trait for steady persistence for a course of action in spite of difficulties. I remember Dr. Gaster telling us about the different traits a while back. If you're bringing that up now, you just performed an intensive soul check on me. Clever." Yonk surmised. Sans's eyelights bugged out at his casual demeanor, Cherry crossing her arms over her chest as she eyed Yonk. "Surprised? I'm far more intelligent than you give me credit for, Mr. Snowdin. Or... should I call you 'Sans' now since we're going to be further acquainted than just student and school official?"
"I'm impressed with that attitude, Yonk. You may just be the one we've been looking for." Cherry complimented, uncrossing her arms and stepping up to Sans. "I think we should take him to our house."
"yeah." Sans extended his hand out to Yonk, his grin widening as he started to build up his magic. "take my hand, kiddo. we're going to take a shortcut."
Yonk complied without incident, the world tearing almost immediately around them. When he blunk, he felt his vision swirl and the room turn at the same time as his vision tried to clear. Staggering backwards, Yonk planted his butt on the nearest chair, rubbing his temples and groaning sickly. "You could have warned me about the time/space distortion effect... I've never experienced something like THIS before." he almost hurled.
Sans and Cherry chuckled slightly, watching as Yonk gagged slightly with each breath. "you'll get used to it, kid."
"I'll do better than that." he commented, pulling a notepad from his jacket pocket and jotting something down. "Now, what's the situation?"
"First, a bit of an explanation; the reason I know Mr. Snowdin so well is because he and my mother were friends. Not sure if he qualified it as a 'best friends' scenario. My mother was the champion of the Sacred Grove, the Royal Guardswoman known as Rainbow Wind. 6 years ago, she was approached by some strange men who attacked her violently, triggering her dormant magic. She met Sans at Grillby's, then she and my father found out that the men who attacked her were from an anti-monster rebel group known as Humanity Against Monsters, or HAM." Cherry began.
"Mom went to investigate into this group when the world was temporarily sent back to before the barrier was broken. I'm not sure what happened after that... I wasn't 'born' until about a month or two after it happened. Long story short about THAT, I am the offspring of the soulbond between two of the Eternal Guardians chosen by the Heartseed. I was born as an 8 year old girl, but I was dropped off into the alternate universe my mother was traversing through. My instincts told me to trust her, but they also told me to be on my constant guard there. Turns out my instincts are part of that genetic code."
"Mom then dropped me off in the alternate tangent named 'Underfell' where she left me with someone she could trust; a parallel version of Sans. She told me that I would be safe with him, called him Uncle Red. That was the last time I saw mom. It turns out that the next universe she went to... she just... disappeared."
"How did that happen?" Yonk asked, leaning forward and rest his arms on his knees.
"we don't know." Sans answered, shrugging his hoodie off and exchanging it for a white labcoat. "what we do know is that zerrus, cherry's mom, vanished from the alternate timeline called 'underswap'. dat checked it out. everything came up clear."
"Dat? Who's Dat?"
"My dad. He's currently scoping out HAM's movements with Krogiir, one of my parents' friends. He's been working for the past 6 years. So far, we've determined that their interest in my mother has faded. We have a suspicion that they may have had something to do with her disappearance." Cherry replied.
"Any new developments?" called out an easily recognizable, gruff voice. Dr. Gaster stepped into view, adjusting the glasses he had taped to his skull. His violet tinted eyelights fell on Yonk, then shifted between Sans and Cherry. "I see you have recruited a new ally."
"Dr. Gaster." Yonk acknowledged, stepping over towards the bulletin board near a strange machine. "How exactly can I help?"
"Well Mr. Rhapsodi, you can start with any suggestions you may have." Gaster replied, leaning over a panel and reading whatever was on display.
"Based on the projections you have here, the simplest solution would be to further investigate HAM. I understand you already have 2 people on duty in that area, but there is clearly something we're missing. Something we might be overlooking..." Yonk's violet eyes danced over the various logs pinned up on the board. His eyes widened when his eyes roamed on the site of disappearance. "So Mrs. Teknianu vanished here... correct?"
"as far as we can tell, yeah." Sans responded, coming up behind Yonk to see what he was coming to.
"According to the data, HAM does NOT have access to time/space manipulations. That means that they could not have directly been involved in her disappearance. Whatever happened to her... it was done by someone who can easily traverse the dimensions."
The room went silent.
"Stars... Mr. Rhapsodi you are a genius!" Gaster exclaimed, rushing over to the machine in the corner of the room. "Zerrus vanished from the home of the Swap brothers, but only one of them has the ability to travel through time and space. He was dismissed as the culprit due to his surprise at the circumstances as well. If we go back to the site of her disappearance, we just might find some data that could pinpoint where she went and who kidnapped her!"
A flash of white magic surged through her body, causing Cherry to curl in on herself and fall to the floor. Shutting her eyes tight, she felt the alien magic constricting her and binding her to the floor. 'CaLl. Me. MaStEr...' she heard echoed into her skull.
'Piss off!' rang out a vaguely familiar voice.
"Mom?" Cherry mumbled, the invisible strings that were constricting her fading away.
"you okay, cherry?" Sans asked, kneeling down to pull Cherry into his arms.
"I... I heard her... I heard mom."
"Must be a ghost signal from her soul." Gaster surmised, scanning over Cherry's soul with his conjured hands. "What did you feel?"
"I felt... it felt like something was cutting into my skin... like a twine or threads of some sort."
"Threads?" Yonk inquired, stepping over to the machine and swiping through the records on the display panel. His eye caught something on display as he rewatched the footage of Zerrus's disappearance. "Guys, I think I got something." Sans carried Cherry over bridal style while Gaster strode over towards the machine. "I checked the footage on the day Zerrus disappeared. At the time of her kidnapping, a hole in time and space was torn directly behind her. It was camoflauged though, so there was no way to see it upon first glance. But just at this moment..." He unpaused the footage to where Zerrus was yanked into nothingness. "There."
Rewinding the footage frame by frame, Yonk pointed out a variety of blue strings wrapping around Zerrus as she was being pulled into the barely noticeable smear. Yonk tapped the display to zoom in towards Zerrus's torso, where the most visible threads were winding. "Think these are the threads you felt just a second ago, Cherry?"
Focusing intently on the look on Zerrus's face, Cherry stared in sympathy at the pain her mother must have felt at the time; between being drug through a void portal violently and the threads that were bound tightly around her, it mut've been excrutiating. "Whoever did this had the ability to contrict others AND traverse through time and space." Cherry summarized.
"oh stars..." Sans blurted out, his eyelights vanishing and staring straight ahead. "we're dealing with a sociopathic me."
"And here I thought there couldn't possibly be a worse version of you, Sans." Gaster chuckled, turning to head towards a workbench with a variety of technology spread across its surface.
"what? you don't find me humerus, old man?"
"Oh dear God." "Please no." Yonk and Cherry both pleaded.
"tibia honest, i'm surprised that there is any kind of me that's violent."
"Please stop." Yonk groaned, burying his face into his jacket sleeve.
"ah c'mon, kiddo. i'm just ribbin' ya."
"Uncle Sans... no more..." Cherry mumbled, ducking her face into her coat.
"heh heh. alright cherrypie. i'll stop."
"Hmhm. Nothing quite like the frustration of youth from hearing bad puns. Yonk, is it? Could you come over here for a moment."
"Sure, Dr. Gaster." Yonk complied, stepping over to the workbench and eyeing the machinery he was fiddling with.
"Tell me, have you felt any changes?"
"Changes? Could you clarify?"
"Of course. I am asking if you have felt any changes with your soul. The reason for this question is because I am developing the means for humans to manage their slumbering magic with a simple device." Gaster picked up a large metallic piece and turned it over in his hands. "If Cheritana feels your magic flowing just by standing near her, you may have the inherant ability to summon your soul's magic." He looked up at Cherry. "Cheritana? Could you analyze him?"
"Okay." Cherry replied, stepping close to Yonk. She stood still, crossing her arms and eyeing Yonk as if he were a slice of bread. "Faint magical discharge. Yonk, have you ever tried to manifest your magic in any way?"
"I wouldn't know how to begin. And I highly doubt that just ANY monster would be able and willing to train me in using magic." Yonk answered, shrugging his shoulders and flicking his wrist, sending small particles of violet magic off of his fingertips. "If I were desperate enough, I would probably seek out one of the Eternal Guardians that remain and ask if they could properly train me."
Everyone stared at Yonk with a mixture of expressions. Some ranging from shock, to a mere grimace.
"Based on your expressions, it isn't as simple as seeking one out. How many Guardians are there?"
"there were only two. one of them is missing." Sans responded, dropping his eyelights to the floor and shaking his head. "the other doesn't have time."
"Then I guess I'll just have to tap into it myself. I don't need any monster to just help me coax it out."
"You'd be the first non-guardian to be able to master magic. That's why you're refusing monster assistance..." Cherry mumbled more to herself than to Yonk.
"Exactly. Now, if we're gonna find your mom we're gonna have to get as much intel from HAM as possible."
"why HAM? shouldn't we investigate underswap further?" Sans inquired.
"No. No, he's got a point. If we investigate HAM first, we can discover if they had any involvement in this Rogue Sans. If nothing turns up, then we can focus on Underswap. Right now, if we try to focus on Underswap we'll only attract unwanted attention." Cherry exclaimed. She ran over to the locker next to the Universal Transporter and opened it; inside were multiple sets of clothing ranging from heist-like garbs to mere civilian clothing better suited for travelling different dimensions. Thumbing through the bags, Cherry found one bag labelled 'DATA' and pulled it out.
Opening the bag she found a grey earpiece, a dark green trench coat with multiple pockets, a small notepad and pen, and a small datachip. Carefully picking up the chip, she noticed that the chip was embedded on a thin piece of tape that was skin-colored. Opening the notepad, she found a note written on the first page:
Place chip on forearm.
Such a blunt instruction. Clearly Dat wrote the note and Zerrus engineered the technology. Turning to look at the others, Cherry sighed deeply. "There's only one chip. So who's going to be the core intel?"
"shouldn't it be you, cherry?" Sans asked, his eyelights blown.
"It could be risky. If HAM remembers or still has notes retaining information about my birth, this chip might hinder us in the search for mom. Knowing mom, she put crucial information or even a sort of magical HUD system in it." Eyeing the small chip closely, Cherry stood up and strode over to Yonk. Placing it in his hand and cupping hers over his, she huffed. "If this is the case, YOU should use it Yonk."
"Flattered. But where will we go for this intel?" Yonk muttered, stamping the tiny chip onto his forearm. He felt a very small tingle of what felt like electricity spark up his arm from the site of the chip. His left pupil suddenly shone a bright light, then faded to a dim shine, a circuit shape embedded just above his brow. "Is your mom known for making crazy inventions?"
"zerrus took after her father, who was a computer engineer. she broadened those horizons and expanded to magic technologies. i think she imbued some of her magic in that chip you just stamped into your arm." Sans answered, stepping closer to him and examining the mark that just barely embossed on his brow. "i think cherry made the right call there."
"Yes. If HAM captures the two of you and forgets the specifics of the Guardian Kin, they may focus on you Mr. Rhapsodi. You look as though you are Zerrus's son with the white pupil and the marking." Gaster commented. "Do you see anything different?"
"Green clouds. They are concentrated on each of you." Yonk replied, waving his hand as if to wave off the clouds.
"that's zerrus's magic alright. my guess is that it's a small quantity. this won't be permanent, yonk." Sans sighed, checking Yonk's stats as the magic settled in his soul.
YONK RHAPSODI LV 1 [ ]HP 850/325
"We got a break." Cherry announced. "One of HAM's most unguarded bases has been identified as a probable target. Krogiir followed through with some intel. The safest route inside the building is the roof ventilation shaft. I say we go at night. Less visability."
"That gives us a few hours to get you two prepared." Gaster chirped.
"What about Cherry? If I have a small portion of her mother's magic, how will she defend herself?" Yonk questioned.
Closing her eyes, an unknown wind gust by them and swirled around her. Holding her hands out and taking a deep breath, the wind gathered near her arms and snaked down to the palms. Arcing her hands, the wind broke off into a black smog near the end of the arc and started to solidify into something. When the wind dispersed it revealed a curved blade, the wind having made a solid weapon in her hands.
The wind then snaked down her body in a black fog, shredding her clothing and encasing her in a sleek black suit. A pair of dark pink long boots were armored and equipped onto her, as well as a pair of matching bracers and a shoulder plate. The pin that rest in her hair now perched in the center of her chest, her hair covered by a dark hood and her mouth covered by a black mask.
"I am the Eternal Guardian, Cheritana Teknianu. My class is Inquisitor." she smirked, her eye glinting as she jumped up and balanced herself on the end of her scythe. "Each of us is given a predestined class. My mother was an unnamed classification. My father... is a Gravity Manipulator. What you will experience with my mother's magic is but a mere FRACTION of her true power. Be honored to even have the opportunity, Rhapsodi."
Chapter 3: Fate's Cruel Mistress
Things don't go according to plan.
Dropping down into the bushes and rustling the leaves only slightly, Cherry and Yonk skuttled as fast as they could towards the back of the building. Staying low to the ground, Cherry poked her head up high enough to get a glimpse of what they were dealing with. "Multiple contacts. Judicial reaction dictates that I incite judgment upon them for their LOVE. Opinion?" she whispered.
"Judgment? You mean kill them?" Yonk blustered, Cherry nodded. "Wouldn't be a smart idea if this is a covert operation. Our only concern is to find any information on Zerrus Teknianu and/or this Rogue."
"True." Turning her attention towards the building, she pushed off her feet and dashed immediately towards the concrete wall of the facility. Yonk stayed low to the ground, the chip on his arm pulsing slightly and making it feel as though he were naturally camoflauged and faster than normal. He slinked his way over to where Cherry leaned and stood cautiously. "Contact chatter. Listening in."
"I dunno Jason, something just doesn't feel right." spoke someone a little ways from where Yonk and Cherry hid.
"Just calm your tits, Torrence. Nobody ain't gonna pull shit on us. You're forgetting just who we work for." responded another as he exploded into a fit of laughter.
Yonk winced loud; almost too loud, and collapsed onto his knees while clutching his head. The chip on his arm sent pulse after pulse and his body felt like it was getting hotter.
"Yonk? What's wr-" just as Cherry started to inquire she felt a strong paing in her head, almost like someone stabbing her with a knife.
'I'm a member of the anti-monster extremist group called HAM.' echoed the same voice as one of the men she heard a moment ago, Torrence. 'They gave me the task of following suspected monsters and testing their mettle... I was actually blackmailed into joining HAM. I have no beef with monsters.'
Static rang in her ears, almost like corrupted data in a video file as the voices stopped.
Looking down at Yonk, Cherry noticed the confused and pained expression on his face and bent down to help him up. "You alright?" she asked.
"Physically." he bluntly remarked. "What the hell was that?"
"So you saw it too? Must be a side effect of the chip..." Cherry mumbled the last part more to herself more than to him. "It's almost like... a fragment of memory. These are my mother's memories. They MUST mean something."
"The guy in the memory sounds like the guy that sounded nervous. Think he can help us?"
"It would be best to keep him away from this matter. He's struggling with HAM as it is." Leaning around the corner to peek and get a closer look at Torrence, Cherry brought her attention back to the roof of the building. "Our best entrance option would be the air ducts up there." She pointed to a singular vent on the side of the building and looked over to Yonk. "I think it would be best if you go first since you have my mother's instincts."
"Reasonable enough." Focusing intently, Cherry summoned her scythe as quietly as she could and busted out the vent cover. Yonk hopped up into the ventilation system and crawled inside with ease. Cherry followed soon after.
After what seemed like an eternity of crawling, Yonk stills inside the vent and stares off towards the left. "What do you see?" she whispered so as not to be heard.
"Not what I see... what I feel. It feels like my magic is tugging this way." he mumbled back, placing a hand on the wall of the ventilation shaft. "There's no way our luck would be this good. Zerrus can't possibly be here."
"AnOtHeR oNe? ThIs Is ToO gOoD." rumbled a glitchy voice coming from all around them. Yonk and Cherry were seemingly yanked out of the world and into a blinding light. Trying to clear their vision, Yonk found that he couldn't move any part of his body. "DoN't BoThEr TrYiNg To MoVe. YoU'Ll JuSt WaStE eNeRgY."
Cherry glanced down to see that her soul was bound by blue threads, then looked over to Yonk to see a purple soul with the same situation as hers. "You're making a huge mistake in trying to restrain us, rogue." Cherry threatened, baring her teeth and struggling to summon her scythe.
"ShE sAiD tHe SaMe ThInG." the Rogue Sans chuckled darkly, stepping over to Cherry and cupping her chin.
"Get your hands off of her!" Yonk shouted, snapping one of the threads holding his arm down and lunging at the rogue. Falling short of grabbing his sleeve, Yonk instead fell forward and groaned as the blue threads cut into his soul even more. Laughing at his bravado, the Rogue Sans walked back over to Yonk and grabbed his hair, yanking him up and forcing their eyes to meet. "No matter what you do, you'll never be anything CLOSE to the REAL Mr. Snowdin!"
"Oh? Mr. SnOwDiN? HeHeHeH... sO, yOu'Re JuSt A bRaT tRyInG tO pLaY hErO tHeN."
"Sure. I'm a brat. Just remember this; I'm the brat that's gonna kick your ass to hell and BACK!" Yonk snarled, snapping more of the threads constricting him and turning his head to look at Cherry. "NOW!"
"JUDGMENT BIND!" Cherry shouted, a barrage of chains shooting out from behind her and zeroing in on the Rogue Sans's position. He chuckled and shook his head, teleporting out of their sight, the chains smashing into the invisible ground and shattering. "What the? GAHK!" He teleported right behind her, more of the threads wrapping around her throat and pulling her back into his chest.
"NiCe TrY kId, BuT yOuR fRiEnD tRiEd ThE sAmE tHiNg WhEn We FiRsT mEt." he smirked, forcing Cherry to look up to see a shadowed figure in the distance. "NoW sHe SeRvEs Me."
"MOM!" "Mrs. Teknianu!" they both called out to the shadow. The shadow twitched only slightly, turning towards the sound and advancing to them.
Stepping into full view was a woman with short blue hair with ends that flared up, pointed ears, and dull red eyes. She wore a grey tattered gown adorned with blue threads, dark crystals embedded onto the shoulders of the gown and her hip. Her boots were equally ratty, just barely staying on her legs by blue threads. The gem centered on her chest was pitch black, a small target reticle in her eye dim as a burnt out bulb. "Master Error, do you wish for me to remove the interlopers?" she inquired, her voice just as glitched as his.
"Mom, snap out of it!" Cherry cried out, struggling to break out of Error's grip and rush to her. Zerrus paid no attention to Cherry or Yonk, instead her gaze was locked entirely on Error.
"ThAt WoN't Be NeCeSsArY." Error answered, stalling a moment as he looked at the tears slowly rolling down Cherry's cheeks. "On SeCoNd ThOuGhT... sHoW tHe ReDhEaD wHaT hApPeNs WhEn YoU cRoSs Me."
"Yes, Master." Zerrus bowed, closing her eyes as energy gathered around her and solidified into a longsword made out of a murky blue energy. Error practically threw Cherry out of his arms and into the floor, Cherry struggling to stand with the threads still partially constricting her movements. Yonk growled under his breath when Error instead stood behind him and grabbed his hair once again.
"YoU cAn EnJoY tHe ShOw, BrAt."
Cherry watched in absolute horror as Zerrus raised her sword to her own child. Gulping hard, she began to scurry backwards to get away from the pulsing energy of the blade as it approached her. Jumping to her feet, she wasted no time in summoning her scythe to block the incoming attack. Zerrus's sword collided with the handle of Cherry's scythe, effectively blocking the damage she would have received had it connected with her. Zerrus remained emotionless as she continued to swing her sword in an attempt to physically harm Cherry.
Stepping to the side, the tip of the blade knicked her shoulder.
CHERITANA TEKNIANU LV 1 [ | ] 325/370 HP
"You are proving to be far more persistant than I would like." Zerrus stoicly remarked, holding her hand out to the side and summoning a wave of black chains to swirl around her. Cherry scoffed under her breath slightly as she summoned her own wave of chains, the vibrant purple radiating from the metal glistening in the empty space. The chains lashed out towards each other, intertwining with the others and narrowly missing their targets.
Cherry launched herself into the air, spinning end over end as she went to deliver a powerful blow. The moment she connected with the ground, she noticed that Zerrus had not moved and had willingly taken the damage. Zerrus silently summoned another wave of chains, wrapping around Cherry's legs and upper torso, rooting her to the ground. She raised her sword again and brought it down violently on Cherry, shattering her own chains and sending her flying across the invisible floor.
CHERITANA TEKNIANU LV 1 [| ] 1/370 HP
"CHERRY!" Yonk shouted, wiggling to break out of the threads again when Error yanked him back by his hair. Zerrus turned her attention over to Yonk, her eyes empty and cold. Stepping over to him, she raised her sword to where the tip barely pressed against his sternum. "How could- how could you do that to your own daughter?! How is it that she's barely hanging on and you're completely unharmed?!"
A murky blue and red soul with threads laced through them hovered just in front of his face. "CaUsE wItHoUt HeR sOuL wHeRe It BeLoNgS, sHe CaN't TaKe DaMaGe." Error cackled, pulling the soul back into his ribcage and crossing his arms. "CeAsE, pEt."
"Yes, Master Error." Zerrus responded, dispelling her sword and staring down Yonk.
Cherry slowly curled in on herself, cradling her wounds and gasping roughly. A looming shadow stepped over her and she knew who it was; Error. Following behind him was a brainwashed and emotionless Zerrus, her eyes still empty of all signs of life. "By the p-power of the Eternal Guardian... I will NOT fall here." she gurgled, turning over to where she was now on her hands and knees, struggling to push herself to her feet. "I WILL save her from your perverted reign."
Error burst out laughing, his glitchy voice causing her ears to ring. "GiVe It Up KiD. yOu CaN't WiN tHiS."
"You're wrong! I won't stop trying!" Cherry shouted, her body glowing brightly with a heavenly energy. Stomping her back down into the floor, Cherry's magic dispersed immediately as Zerrus ground her boot into her shoulder blades. She removed her boot when she felt that Cherry wasn't going to move again.
In an instant, Yonk pounced on top of Cherry and sent out a pulse of electric energy, knocking back Error and Zerrus. Taking that moment, he pressed a button on his belt and sent them back into their universe and in the workshop. Rolling off of her, he checked both of their stats.
YONK RHAPSODI LV 1 [ | ] 115/325 HP
CHERITANA TEKIANU LV 1 [| ] 1/370 HP
"..." Yonk made a strangled sound in his throat when he heard the sound of the workshop door opening. He knew that pressing the button would alert Sans and Gaster that something had gone wrong in their recon mission. When the footsteps grew louder, he broke down. "WHAT THE ABSOLUTE FUCKING SHIT WAS THAT GODDAMN BULLSHIT?!"
Sans and Gaster stilled, completely stunned by Yonk's broken composure. Yonk was cradling Cherry as she lay unconscious in his arms, tears of rage rolling down his cheeks as everything that had just happened replayed in his head over and over again. His shoulders trembling violently, he grabbed for the chip on his forearm and tore it off, throwing it across the room and scooping Cherry up. "I swear to fucking god, I will tear that bastard apart and feed him to the dogs for this!"
"calm down kid and tell us what happened." Sans spoke, cautiously approaching Yonk as he set Cherry down on the cot.
"That rogue, Error! THAT'S what happened!" He yelled, turning around violently, his left eye sparking with lightning and sending tiny sparks of energy off of him. "He kidnaps us, binds our souls with his weird threads, and orders Zerrus to kick Cherry's ass!" Sans and Gaster started a bit, taking a step back from him as he continued to pour out everything that happened. "She's under his complete control! She didn't give two SHITS that she just damn near killed her own daughter!"
"Deep breaths, Mr. Rhapsodi. Getting riled up won't help anything right now." Gaster calmly spoke, folding his arms behind his back as he listened to Yonk's recap. Following his advise, Yonk's legs gave out from under him and planted him on the floor next to the cot. "Now, what exactly happened between Zerrus and Cheritana?"
"Error ordered Zerrus to teach Cherry a lesson. Zerrus just... she just did what she was told. Cherry even smashed her scythe down on top of Zerrus and it did absolutely NOTHING to her! He said something about her soul not being in her body so she can't take damage."
Sans's eyelights vanished from his eyesockets.
"He dangled her soul in my face... the colors were so murky... so bland. He then put it in his ribcage."
"so he's controlling her with her soul." Sans growled, his eyesockets black voids.
"I-If we can just get her soul away from him, she might come to her senses! Right?"
Gaster and Sans exchanged looks.
"looks like this error is about to have a b a d t I m e."
Writer's block is a bitch... the next chapter will take a pretty long time before upload... if any of you readers have any suggestions for future content, feel free to throw them my way. I'll write it down.
Chapter 4: Rage of a Rhapsodi
Yonk struggles with the realization that Cherry probably won't be the same.
Stepping into the workshop, Yonk tapped his boots against the floorboards in anticipation. His gaze never left Cherry's limp form, her breathing shallow, her face pale. Everytime he remembered why she was even in this position to begin with, his now awakened magic begins to react. The sound of slippers shuffling against the wooden floors alerted him to who had just entered the workshop. Without turning his head to greet them properly, he spoke. "It's been days since the mission and Cherry is still unconscious. No sign of movement."
"i know it's gotta be hard kid, but we just have to wait until she wakes up. her soul took more damage than you think." Sans huffed, shuffling his way over to Cherry and placing his hand on her forehead. "you humans use the term 'heartbroken' very easily. well... she's very well experiencing it and has physical proof of it." Gently pulling her soul from her body, he hovered the tiny heart in his palm. The once vibrant purple and red soul was now dull and splintering at the end. "i'm not her, but i can safely assume that the reason for her soul to be splintering is having her own mother not recognize her and try to kill her. i know that it would screw with me pretty bad if gaster forgot me and paps."
Yonk turned his attention away from Cherry for only a moment to lock eyes with Sans, his blank yet filled with anger while Sans's were almost melancholy. "I know what she's feeling, Sans. I've kept this secret for many years and nobody knows the truth about my origin or even my lineage." Standing up, Yonk summoned forth his soul, the vibrant purple pulsing waves of what felt like royal energy. "I am the adopted son of Darkthorne of Brairheart. My parents were killed by an unknown assailant and I was left alive. For what reason, I don't know. All I can say is that Darkthorne took me under her wing and raised me almost like her own, though my existence has been shrouded by the courts."
Placing his soul back into his chest, Yonk sighed heavily as he turned back towards Cherry. "I've been desensitized for so many years of my life... only going through the motions and doing what I need to get what I want done. All that changed when I met Cherry. Something about her... it feels like my heart tugs towards her and I don't understand why."
"sounds like you two are soulmates."
"Soulmates? Pfeh. I don't believe in all that spiritual predestined mate crap."
"you probably should kid, seeing as how you've already seen what happens when someone is missing their core." Sans brought his hand over to Yonk's taking his hand and practically forcing it on her sternum. The gentle thrumming of her soul intensified in his other hand as Yonk's grew nearer. "her soul is reacting to you. and she cares about you more than she lets on."
"How can you possibly tell?"
"Cause Zerrus and I are the same way." Answered a male voice from behind them. Stepping out from the shadowy doorway, he revealed his dark green hair, black eyes, and casual attire. He had dark circles under his eyes, his hair ruffled and sticking out in every direction as though he had just woken up. "Cherry won't say it, but she likes you. She
really takes after her mother in that way."
"Who are you?" Yonk spun around, knocking the chair out from under him in his frantic haste to face the man who entered the workshop.
"I'm Cherry's dad. You can just call me Dat. At any rate, Cherry DOES care about you but she won't openly say it. You'll have to weasle it out of her somehow. Or just wait. That's what happened with me and Zerrus." Dat pulled up a stool and sat on it, crossing on leg over the other and resting his head on his hand. "She just brought it up outta the blue one day. Said, 'will you marry me' or something close to that. Did it to keep us from being outcasted individually and it worked pretty well."
"You two were outcasts?"
"Hard not to be when the Eternal Guardians were nothing but a legend for god knows how long. The second a human who can use magic shows up, everyone just went full-on psycho angry mob." Dat kicked at the ground lightly, his face scrunched up in a silent rage. "It's thanks to her determination that we're married and the realms are still as strong as ever. Well... as strong as it CAN be what with time going back and everything."
"yeah... sorry about that mess, dat." Sans shyly apologized while scratching the back of his skull.
"Ain't like it was your fault. After all, SHE chose to take the responsibilty of breaking the cycle."
"But why did she choose to do that? Nobody held a gun to her head." Yonk blurt out.
"she felt burdened by the fact that a mere child was caught in the cycle. every time the kid died, the world jumped back. i guess zerrus couldn't stand the thought and took the pain from them. as a result, she made herself a prime target by a blood thirsty killer; chara. turns out that the gleam and the gloam had banished chara to the underground many years ago, not realizing that they had the ability to reset time." Sans started.
"Chara's estranged mother, Zehanpuryu, forced Zerrus into the job of killing Chara forever. Only an Eternal Guardian has the power to defy the laws of time and space." Dat continued.
"and due to that, zerrus's soul grew weaker and weaker as time went on. that must've made her a target for error."
"But what would he want with an Eternal Guardian?" Yonk questioned, pushing himself out of his seat and strolling over to the bulletin board.
The information pinned on the board showed that HAM had no known connections to Zerrus's disappearance, an image taken from Yonk's memory of Error was pinned up and below that was an image of Zerrus in her current state. He carefully eyed her vestment and remembered the threads that were bound tightly around his body, never forgetting how the magical twine cut into his skin. Clenching his fist at the memory, he growled under his breath and turned away from the board and towards the workbench.
Grabbing a small metal plate, he turned it over in his hand and used his other hand to conjure a small orb of lightning. "Sans? Do you think it would be possible to combine my magic and these metal plates and form some sort of armor?" Yonk asked, looking over his shoulder while maintaining the orb of electricity.
"can't say it's impossible. if anything, it's shocking." Sans smirked, shooting dual fingerguns over to Yonk with a wink. Dat blunk twice and glanced over to him, fighting a grin. Yonk growled deep in his chest, turning around almost violently and shooting him a glare. "hey, lightning up buddy. if you can't find humor in even the darkest of situations, then you're better off dead. that's what a good friend of mine used to say."
"I can appreciate a joke every now and then... but NOW hardly seems the time, Sans." spoke Gaster from the doorway of the workshop. Yonk turned around to look up at him, his violet eyes meeting Gaster's. "Mr. Rhapsodi, the school is pressuring me about your absences. When do you think you will return to the school?"
"I think you know the answer." Yonk spat, returning to his work with fervor. He placed his left arm on the worktable and stared at the metal fragments. Thoughts were going through his head at a mile a minute, his eyes darting from spot to spot on the table.
"I understand your worry, but I must recommend that you return to the school tomorrow."
"And why's that? Just so those students can make fun of her absence? To watch me sit by and bite my tongue and do NOTHING?" Yonk shouted, spinning around violently as his eyes changed from a deep purple to a shimmering magenta. "I'm tired of sitting around and not being able to do anything! I'm tired of being WEAK! I'm just... I'm just...!" he rambled, his legs wobbling slightly as his magic began to overpower his base needs and forced him to stagger. Bringing a hand up to his forehead and rubbing small circles over his temple, he kept his glare on Gaster. "I'm done. I'm done with everything."
"Take a deep breath kid, your magic CAN kill you if you don't control your emotions." Dat instructed, keeping Sans by his side by extending his arm and shooting Gaster a look. "You JUST unlocked your magic and if you don't get proper training for it, it WILL control you."
"I DON'T need anyone's help." Yonk growled, electricity sparking from his fingertips and connecting with nearby objects.
"Zerrus said the same thing. Now look what that's gotten her into." Dat spat back with his teeth bared, revealing a set of fangs to Yonk. The presence of powerful magic surged through the room, circling around Dat and Yonk. "Now stop being such a spoiled little shit and LISTEN; if you don't control your anger now, your magic will go haywire and will only hurt those trying to help you!"
Yonk's eyes bugged out, his stance staggering only slightly as the magic combatting against his won. Taking a few deep breaths, he regained his composure and brushed past Gaster almost violently. Fishing into his jacket pocket, Yonk grabbed what looked like a small beige rock with a brilliant greenish-blue crystal in the center. Holding it to the sky, he narrowed his eyes as the sound of the workshop door opening behind him told him who followed. "I get what everyone's saying; it was a mistake for my magic to awaken. Just like..."
"just like what, kid?" Sans asked as he remained near the door to the workshop, shutting it to let Gaster and Dat concentrate on their work.
"It was also a mistake for me to even survive."
Teleporting in front of him almost immediately with eyelights gone, Sans stared down Yonk with a silent statement. Yonk remained emotionless, his gaze locked onto the stone in his hand. Holding the stone to the sky once more, a heavenly energy washed over them both as Sans grabbed Yonk's arm to capture his attention. Tearing through the void in a mere instant, Sans found himself in unknown territory, briars the size of trees sprouting from the ground and spiraling around everything. The sky was painted a deep purple with hints of red throughout, the water was a sickly pink shade, and the local creatures looked mottled and decrepid.
Yonk shoved Sans hand off of his arm and started walking down the dirt path of the briar forest. Pulling his hood up, Yonk kept his head low as he trudged through the forest to keep his presence low. Sans followed his heels, keeping his guard up in the unknown territory that Yonk had somehow transported them to. His eyelights roamed the different brair trees in an attempt to familiarize himself with the area thanks to the books Zerrus and Dat gave him and Papyrus to read. "kid, where are we?" Sans finally ground out, his voice stern as he continued to wrap his skull around where they could possibly be.
Yonk refused to speak, instead pressing further on into the forest.
They finally came to a clearing, old discarded weapons of various types thrown haphazardly around the field. Yonk stepped out the center of the clearing and bent down, brushing aside a pile of leaves to reveal a rickety old wooden door. Pulling open the heavy door with a grunt, Yonk shielded his eyes from a wave of fresh dust that shot up from the impact. Turning to face Sans, he still kept his head low. "Follow." he uttered.
The sound of wood creaking under their weight was the only thing that broke the unbearable silence between the two of them. Yonk lead Sans down through the dusty space until he came to a stop. Fishing the stone out of his pocket and a flashlight, he shone the light on the wall until he stopped. Stepping towards a chipped block on the wall, he placed the stone in the chipped spot and waited as the sound of something clicking open stole Sans's attention. Turning towards the sound, he watched as a secret room opened up, revealing countless cobwebs and what looked like a dark spot on the ground.
Stepping into the secret passage, Sans bent down to look closer at the dark spot. His eyelights vanished almost immediately when he realized just what the spot was; blood. "See?" Yonk grunted out, stepping away from the room and towards a candelabra. Lighting the candles, the room started to brighten up and revealed a collection of what looked like torture tools that hung up on the wall.
"what is all this?" Sans gulped, hard. "how do you know where this is?"
"How can I not?" Yonk slowly took off his jacket and his shirt, revealing deep scars that littered his body. "I'm sure you can connect the dots."
"but why do you say that it was a mistake for you to survive?"
"Look at me, Sans." Yonk spoke, his eyes burning bright once more. "Why should a freak like me even be alive? Why did my parents have to die? Why did I have to be submitted to that torture?" With every question, Yonk took a step towards Sans and waved his arms at each of tools hanging on the walls. "The scars on my torso? Curtesy of the person who took away EVERYTHING I EVER HAD! Why did this have to happen?! WHY DOES MY STORY HAVE TO END IN TRAGEDY?!" Yonk grabbed Sans's hoodie, shaking him and gritting his teeth as his old wounds burned as the memories were brought back into the front of his mind.
Falling down towards the ground, Sans caught him as he felt the waves of Yonk's soul crying out to be heard. Pulling his soul from his chest, Yonk watched as the purple soul flickered. Cracks were barely visible on the surface of the fragile soul. Sans's eyelights roamed the soul, reading each crack as if they held unseen words. "kid, if anything... you're lucky to have survived."
"Lucky...? How is ANY of this lucky?"
"cause thanks to a little thing called 'soul scouring' i can help you find the person who did this." Turning away for a moment, Sans took a deep breath and brought his gaze back over to Yonk. "but this will hurt a bit. you will have to relive those horrible moments."
"You... want to help me? Why?"
"kid, if we're gonna stop zerrus, we need everyone mentally stable. on top of that..." His eyelights darkened once more, his left eye sparking to life with a brilliant cyan iris. "it's my job."
Chapter 5: Memorial
The Eternal Guardians are slowly returning.
Teleporting in front of the school, Yonk staggered away from Sans as a strong sense of vertigo just about knocked him over. Taking a few deeps breaths, he glanced over to see his eyelights shimmering concern. "I'm fine." he bluntly spoke, standing straight and fixing his jacket collar to cover the edge of one of the scars on his chest. "Why'd you bring me here? I thought I made it clear that I have no intention on returning here until Cherry wakes up."
"we both know that that's not gonna happen any time soon." Sans sighed, stuffing his hands into his hoodie pockets and avoiding Yonk's firey glare. "i know you're pissed, but just trust me on this one, kiddo."
"Trust..." muttering the word under his breath he turned back towards the school and narrowed his eyes. "We'll just see how far trust can take us alone." Pushing past the double doors and into the school, he was met with many judging eyes as they roamed over him. Keeping his composure, he strode over to his locker and grabbed his books. Not once did he feel the gaze of the students leave him. Feeling the untamed magic in his body start to awaken, he took a few deep breaths and cleared his mind.
When he turned away from his locker he bumped into a much larger male student, stumbling backwards slightly as he gripped his nose, he glared. "Watch it, Raspberry." he taunted. Pushing past Yonk and forcefully shoving his shoulder aside, the burly student strut down the hallway. When he was out of eyeshot, Yonk turned around and growled under his breath, balling his fists and wanting nothing more than to punch the smug bastard.
"Glad to see you have joined us, Mr. Rhapsodi." greeted Gaster as Yonk shuffled into the classroom, setting his books down and flopping in his seat like a husk. Gaster knelt down in front of him, peering deep into his eyes as if he were reading words on a screen. "Have you been resting well?"
"Hardly." Yonk grumbled out while turning to look away from Gaster's piercing gaze. "I can't rest easy until we put this to an end."
"Put what to an end?" asked a cheerful girl as she bounced in between Gaster and Yonk. Her faded lilac hair shimmered down her back, some of her hair tapering off into waves near the end. Her eyes were the brightest and most glowing pair of blue-green eyes Yonk had ever seen, and her skin was as pale as a shrine maiden's. "Where have ya been, Yonky?"
Choking on his breath, Yonk's face immediately turned red at the petname. The sound of some of the other students chuckling under their breath stole his attention for only a moment. "I've been busy." he plainly answered, turning away from her and scratching his hand nervously. The girl latched onto his arm and giggled in the most giddy manner.
"Well duh, you and Cherryboo must be really close friends."
"Don't misread anything without the facts, Faliko." Yonk snarled, shrugging Faliko off of his arm and bringing his attention to the front of the classroom.
"Then, where is she?"
"Ms. Teknianu is recovering from an emergency situation. We don't know when she will return to class." Gaster answered, standing next to Yonk and tapping his arm gently. Glancing up for a moment, Yonk saw what looked to be a note hanging loosely in his hand. Smoothly moving his hand up as if to scratch his head, Yonk grabbed the note and coughed slightly. He waited until Gaster moved away and the other students went to their seats before opening the note.
'Sit next to Sans on the bus.'
Raising a brow, Yonk peered just behind his hair to see Sans leaning against the doorway with his arms crossed. Folding the note and sticking it in his pocket, he watched the class silently as Sans took his seat next to Gaster's desk. The bell rang, signalling to all the students that class was about to begin. On cue, Gaster stepped up to the middle of the classroom. "Class, today we are taking a field trip to the Memorial Caverns. We're going to learn the difference between Monster magic and Pixie magic."
After being named who would be partners on the trip, Yonk stepped over to Sans with his hands buried in to his pockets. "Why the field trip?" he whispered, glancing over his shoulder to see if anyone was hovering nearby.
"we discovered the next location that this error will show up at. not sure why he wants to go to the memorial caverns, but that's the only lead we got." Sans muttered, shrugging slightly and leaning back against the wall. "we're going there today to case the place. try to find the reason why."
"Bringing the class to an area where a dangerous sociopathic Sans will be is not a smart idea." Yonk growled, peeking over his shoulder again to see Faliko walking towards them. "We'll talk about this later."
Turning to face her, Yonk watched with a piercing stare as Faliko leaned in towards them. "Watcha talkin' about, Yonky?" she giggled.
"Stop calling me that!" he sputtered. He turned away from Faliko quickly and stood as rigid as a board as she giggled more.
"Come on! You can tell me!"
"Actually, I can't."
"I just can't." Yonk's magic slowly started to awaken, his irritation fueling the slumbering magic. "Just... trust me. I can't tell you."
Stepping off the bus, Yonk took in a deep breath and stretched his arms and legs. Turning around and looking up at the large tree in the center of the grove, he smirked. The Royal Palace of the Sacred Grove, a majestic creation of life born over thousands of years ago and still alive. It looked livelier than the Royal Palace he's come to know so well in Brairheart. Sans stepped up beside him, looking up at the tree as well. "who would've thought that such a beautiful tree is over 10,000 years old." he commented, jostling Yonk only slightly.
"Reminds me of home." Yonk mumbled as he continued to stare at the tree. Following the group towards the Memorial Caverns, Yonk watched with wary eyes for any sign of Error anywhere. "What exactly should we be looking for, Sans?"
"hard to say. you're the one who was attacked by him."
"True, but what could be possibly be looking for in this place?"
Descending deep into the Caverns, Dr. Gaster led the class towards the crown jewel of the Caverns; the Heartseed. "according to legend, the pixie ayani planted this seed when the war of councils was over. as she knelt over the seed, she shed a tear onto it. the tear created the rivers, lakes, and even the oceans that we know today. in that moment, the heartseed sprout into a glorious tree." Sans read the plaque aloud. Stepping back from the plaque to look at the seed, he cocked one brow. "why is the seed broken then?"
"That would be because of Darkthorne." Yonk spoke, leaning over the railing and watching the water cascade down the seed and into the pool below. "When Darkthorne left the Royal Palace, she took part of the Heartseed with her and planted it in Briarheart."
A gust of wind blew by him, followed by a whisper.
Reeling around swiftly, Yonk lost his footing and careened over the edge of the ridge. Falling into the freezing cold water of the Caverns, he held his breath as the world swirled around him. Sans went to dive in after him when Faliko shot by him and dove in herself. Splashing into the water, she swam down towards Yonk when a blinding light consumed them both. Grabbing Yonk's sleeve, Faliko watched as the light grew brighter and brighter until she felt the water that surrounded them disappear.
Looking down at Yonk, Faliko's eyes widened when she saw a large scar across his chest. "Did he cut himself on a rock falling down here?" she muttered, reaching out towards the injury when his eyes shot open. Scuttling back from her, he coughed out some water and pulled his shirt over to cover the scar. "What happened, Yonk?"
The air tore around them as Sans and Gaster stepped into view. "Ms. Hime, what happened?" Gaster asked, bending down to inspect Yonk for injuries.
"I don't know, Dr. Gaster. He got all jumpy and fell into the water." she answered, shyly pressing her arms to her chest and backing away.
"Yonk Rhapsodi. Child of Briarheart." echoed a disembodied feminine voice. All four of them shot up and looked around frantically trying to find the source of the voice. "Do you think yourself worthy of my gift?"
"Gift?" Yonk coughed out, his magic sparking off his fingertips.
"The gift of the Arch-Elementalist." it answered back, gems appearing from thin air and hovering around him. "You have awoken your hidden powers. The same powers that Perse the Purple Swordsman once held."
"Perse?" Faliko called out, her voice wavering in fear.
"many years ago, there were 7 guardians. each of those guardians represented a trait that humans possess. perse was the guardian of perserverance." Sans recounted. "are you saying that yonk is a reincarnation of one of the ancient guardians?"
"Not exactly a reincarnation. More over he is reborn."
Everyone gasped at this information, turning towards Yonk as his eyes nearly bugged out. "Reborn? Wait! Does that mean that Zerrus, Dat and Cheritana are reborn guardians as well?" Yonk shouted, the realization hitting him like a ton of bricks.
"Yes. Dat represents Courage and Kindness, a hybrid of Coare and Kisen. Cheritana represents the hybrid of Determination and Perserverance, Demina and Perse. Zerrus... is unknown."
"Unknown? But... her soul was blue and red. Doesn't that mean-"
"integrity and determination... but her soul wasn't always those colors." Sans continued, heaving a sigh and turning towards the group. "before i trained her in magic, her soul represented all 7 of the traits."
"What?!" everyone shouted, Gaster stepping over to Sans and staring down at him.
"Do you have any idea what that means, Sans?" Gaster inquired, his eyelights vanishing. "Zerrus is a dangerous creature. We need to destroy her."
"What? Are you an idiot?!" Yonk shouted while stomping over towards Gaster as his magic tingled down his spine. "Destroying her ISN'T the answer! Cherry's spent YEARS trying to find her mother and you're now saying that instead of trying to SAVE her we're going to KILL her?! That's not an option!"
"I'm confused... who is Zerrus?" Faliko asked.
"zerrus is cherry's mother. she disappeared 6 years ago when investigating tears in the time/space continuum in alternate universes." Sans started. "we only recently discovered what happened to her. she's been enslaved and brainwashed by an alternate version of me."
"Well that's not so bad, is it?"
"Actually, it is." Faliko gasped as Gaster turned towards her. "This alternate version of Mr. Snowdin is a sociopathic killer. He is using Zerrus to accomplish something. The reason Cheritana isn't here-"
"Cherry was almost killed because of that bastard." Yonk growled, electricity sparking at his fingertips. "He manipulated Zerrus's will and forced her to strike down her own daughter."
"Isn't there anything we can do?" Faliko cried out, looking up to the sky and calling out to the voice.
"There is. However... are you willing to suffer great struggles for the Realms?" echoed the voice.
"What do you mean?"
"Your soul is powerful, Faliko Hime. You represent Kisen, the guardian of Kindness. All humans can wield this power if they put aside their own safety for the sake of others. However, humans tend to lack the capacity to care for others in the name of sacrifice. This is why the Eternal Guardians are chosen, dear Faliko." Gems fluttered around her, pulsating a rainbow of colors. "What is your decision? Do you wish to fight to protect the Realms? In choosing this you will sacrifice your normal lifestyle and will never be able to return to a carefree life. By choosing this path, you will have everyone depend on you in times of need. Do you accept this power?"
"You... want me to be an Eternal Guardian?"
"Yes. The choice is up to you."
"Will... will I be able to help Zerrus?"
"That is up for you to decide, dear Faliko."
"This isn't just for MY benefit, voice! I want to help Zerrus! I want to help Cherry! I want to help Yonk! I want the pain to stop!" Faliko cried, tears running down her cheeks as she vented her frustrations to the disembodied voice. "I'll do ANYTHING to make things normal again! I'll do ANYTHING to make Yonk happy again!"
"Faliko... please think this through! Zerrus is NOT someone you want to fight against!" Yonk shouted, stepping towards Faliko hesitantly. "You WILL get hurt doing this."
"I don't CARE! I accept!" Faliko shouted, the gems that swirled around her cascading into her and encasing her.
"Then I hereby dub you Faliko Hime, the Adjudicator." repsonded the voice, releasing Faliko from the crystal pillar and dropping her down in a set of elegant green and purple robes. Looking over her garments, she glanced over to Yonk as the crystals swirled around him. "And I hereby officially dub you Yonk Rhapsodi, the Arch-Elementalist."
The same blinding light from before sent all four of them flying out of the water and back onto the ledge Yonk fell from. Looking around, the class watched with wide eyes as Faliko and Yonk stood there before them with an ethereal glow around them. "S-so... uh, the legend of the Eternal Guardians is real." Yonk stuttered while scratching the back of his head nervously. "How are things up here?"
"Freak." muttered the burly student that bumped into him before. "That legend is just a fairy tale. The Eternal Guardians don't exist, moron."
"Are you sure you're simply not referring to yourself?" Faliko snarled, stepping up to the student and standing straight and proud. "I won't sit by and let you get away with saying whatever you want when the proof is right before you."
"Whoa." Yonk admired from a distance as he watched Faliko bear down on the much taller and far more threatening student.
"What say you now, Darik?" she taunted, the green glow surrounding her hands and ghosting around her eyes. "Do you not believe?"
"Of course I don't believe in that nonsense! The Eternal Guardians are just a myth made up to make kids be good! If they really existed, then why haven't they done anything about the wars that continue to wage in the Sacred Grove?" Darik calmly rebuted, staring down at Faliko and challenging her. "If they really exist, prove it."
"Don't tempt me." Faliko warned, stepping back only slightly to give her more breathing room.
A strong force rooted all 3 of the students to the spots they were standing in. Glancing over to Sans, Yonk saw that Sans's eyesockets were closed and his smirk was only slightly wider than normal. "we can't be having ourselves a duel in the memorial caverns. besides..." opening his sockets, Sans revealed his left one to be glowing a brilliant cyan iris with a faint smoke trail as he chuckled. "it wouldn't be smart to challenge untamed magic."
"What are you talking about, Mr. Snowdin?" Darik stumbled on his words, struggling to break free from the invisible force holding him down.
"every human is capable of magic in their own form. it's all in their willpower, remember?"
"He's right. If you antagonize us any further, you could risk catastrophic damage." Yonk spoke, fighting back the force on his soul and easing the pressure. "We don't want that."
The feeling of someone watching them intently brought Gaster's attention over towards the Heartseed. The water that continues to endlessly cascade down the seed revealed a distorted reflection in the waves. Squinting to get a better look, he spied what was clearly a blur of blue and grey. Turning towards the class, he raised his hand. "Field trip is over class. Make your way towards the bus." Gaster called out.
The class filed out, but Sans kept Darik, Yonk, and Faliko anchored to their respective spots. Easing the magic, he looked over his shoulder to get a good look at Gaster. "what's up, doc?" Sans questioned.
"Darik is it?" Gaster called over to the large student. He nodded hastily. "You said you wanted proof. Well, you are about to witness it."
Pointing towards a crystal embedded on the cavern wall, Gaster identified a blue haired woman in grey robes perched on the crystal with analytical eyes. Narrowing her eyes only slightly, she jumped from the crystal and bounded towards Sans. A swirl of murky blue magic materialized around her hand, summoning an ethereal blade as she swung downwards. Teleporting out of the attack, Sans released his hold on the students' souls.
Landing on a banister, Sans watched with steady eyelights as Zerrus's attack collided with the rocky ground. Standing up, he snapped his fingers and summoned an array of bones that hovered behind him. "i don't want to fight you, zerrus." Sans called out, his voice steady.
"..." Zerrus remained silent as she pulled her sword from the ground and turned to face Sans. Raising the blade at him, she smirked devilishly as magic swirled around her.
"you're challenging me. heh..." Waving his hand forward, he sent the array of bones flying towards Zerrus. Dashing forward, Zerrus took each one of the bone attacks aimed at her and closed the distance between her and Sans. Bringing her sword upwards at an angle, she met resistance as a pair of disembodied hands gripped the blade of her sword. Glancing over her shoulder with dull eyes, she watched as Sans teleported directly beside Gaster. "you should know kid, i got friends on my side."
The bones lodged in her arms and legs hindered her movements, making her sluggish and easy to predict as she danced towards them with her sword at the ready. A wave of chains shot out from behind her, aiming at not Sans or Gaster, but at something above them. Sensing the danger, Faliko shot up from her position and in front of the Heartseed, in the way of the chains. Crossing her arms in front of her chest, a large bubble appeared as the chains bounced off of it. Grabbing on to the Heartseed to keep herself from falling into the water below, she watched in fear as Zerrus's eyes bore into hers.
Holding his hand outwards, Yonk channeled a wave of electricity and built up its power. Swinging his arm only slightly, he sent the electrical ball towards Zerrus at an alarming speed. The ball of magic connected with his intended target, effectively stunning her and throwing off her balance. Staggering backwards, Zerrus glanced over her shoulder as something beckoned her. Looking back towards the group and the Heartseed, she fell over the edge of the ridge they were on. Rushing over towards the edge, Darik watched as a ball of white energy consumed Zerrus whole.
"What the hell was that?" he shivered, his eyes glued to the spot where Zerrus once was.
"That was an Eternal Guardian; corrupted by a perverted force that warped her sense of reason." Gaster answered, rubbing his neck and stretching his muscles. "However, I am greatly concerned."
"You SHOULD be concerned, Dr. Gaster! If she comes back, she'll kill us all!" Darik shouted, his body shaking violently in absoulte fear.
"that's not the problem." Sans muttered, bringing his gaze up towards the Heartseed. Using his magic he carefully brought Faliko down from the Heartseed and safely on the ground. "zerrus still holds her inhibitions of not wanting to hurt others. she wasn't trying to kill us."
"She was trying to kill the Heartseed." Yonk realized, shaking off the excess magic that ghosted over him and caused his hair to stand on end. "We gotta snap her back to reality and FAST."
This chapter was a doozy to write. Spent weeks writing it.
Chapter 6: Preparing for Battle
Everyone gathers to plan for their ultimate battle to protect the Heartseed.
Landing in the soft snow of another universe, Yonk and Failko made their way through the dark forest of Snowdin. "Stick close, Faliko." Yonk spoke, shoving his hands into his jacket pockets and huddling a bit closer to her. "This is the alternate universe known as Underfell. All of the monsters here are naturally violent. Be on your guard."
"If they are so violent, then why didn't Mr. Snowdin come with us?" Faliko asked, shivering slightly from both the cold and fear.
"Because we could risk tearing reality if he tries to teleport him back to our universe. So WE have to." Coming to a stop, Yonk ducked down as a snowball spiraled through the air where his head was and collided with a nearby tree. The tree took heavy damage, a rock embedded into the bark with remnants of snow still surrounding it. Standing up and brushing his hair out of his eyes, Yonk stared down the mysterious monster who threw the snowball. Not shocking to him, it was Underfell's Sans, Red.
"another universal time traveller, eh?" Red chuckled, casually tossing a snowball from hand to hand while leaning against the gate leading into the Snowdin limits. "what brings ya here?"
"We seek your assistance in detaining one Zerrus Teknianu." Yonk answered, standing firm.
"zerrus? haven't heard from her in 6 years, kid. she left her little girl here and never showed back up." Red tossed the snowball carelessly over his shoulder and pushed himself off the gate. Turning to face the duo directly, his eyesockets blank, Red passed a threatening smirk. "so why should i help you detain her?"
"Because if you don't help us sir, she'll destroy the Heartseed!" Faliko shouted, stepping forward and from behind Yonk. "Without the Heartseed, the world will be plunged into chaos!"
"heh. look around you, sweetcheeks. this world is already chaos."
"But it doesn't have to be!" Faliko stepped even closer to Red, her green aura faintly emerging around her hands.
"Faliko!" Yonk snapped.
"Consider this; If the Heartseed of the original universe is destroyed, so too will your universe." Reaching out and cupping one of Red's cheeks, Faliko stared directly into his empty sockets. "Come with us to defend the Heartseed. To take back the land and finally set ALL monsters free. No more chaos. No more pain."
"sweetheart, you'd better get yer hands off me..." Red growled under his breath.
"Don't you want that? To protect your brother and all those you love?"
Shoving her back with an invisible magic, Red shot backwards with a flurry of bones attacks aimed directly at Faliko. Leaping in the way of the attack, Yonk brought up a wall of electricity and watched as it burned away the bones to dust. "Looks like you hit the nerve." Yonk commented, stepping forward and summoning 6 electrical amplification devices that hovered just behind him. Narrowing his eyes, he sent out a silent challenge out towards Red as his magic coursed through his veins.
"think you got what it takes to take me down, kid?" Red laughed, his left eye lighting up a brilliant red flame. "better fighters than you have tried."
"We don't want to fight you." Faliko called out, a wave of green magic swarming around her arms and exploding to reveal a shield and mace. "Just hear us out! Please!"
"I don't think that's gonna work, Faliko. You tried already and now he's pissed." Yonk muttered.
"Violence doesn't solve anything, you idiots!" Bonking Yonk with her shield she simultaneously swiped at Red with her mace. Blinking out of her attack, he teleported directly behind her and aimed one of his blasters at the back of her head. Sensing the danger, she brought her shield up and absorbed the damage from the blast. The force from the blast skid her back a few feet, Faliko keeping her shield up until the wave ended until she sprung forward. Twisting in the air, she fell short as a surprise wave of bones shot up from under the ground and sent her flying into the air.
The air tore around them as a blur of red shot by Yonk and Red and towards the airborne Faliko. Adjusting her trajectory, Faliko watched in shock as the red blur came right at her. Bringing her shield up to block an incoming attack, she was surprised to find that the blur had instead safely brought her back to the ground and behind Yonk. Looking up, she watched the figure land in the soft snow, their red hair flowing elegantly in the chilly breeze. Red stilled his attacks, his eyesockets going blank once more. "well now, if ain't the girl."
Glancing up from under her bangs, Cherry glared darkly at Red. "What the hell are you doing?" she demanded, standing straight while approaching him.
"you know how it is in this world, kiddo. it's kill or be killed."
"And the promise you made to my mother? What of that?" Cherry barked out, a wave of red and violet magic coasting around her hands and soldifying into a scythe. "You promised to look after me. You promised not to hurt anyone else that came here if they meant no harm." Stalking towards him with her eyes flaming with a purple flame with red licking the tip of the flames, she circled him. "You attacked my friends... and now I must incite judgment."
Raising her scythe over her head, a wave of magic energy swirled around the blade and around the group. Holding his ground and refusing to lose eye contact, Red continued to stare Cherry down. Bringing the scythe down at incredible speed, she barely missed while tearing away some shreds of fur from his jacket. "However, due to the dire circumstances I must overlook this transgression." Dismissing her magic and her armor, Cherry stood before all of them wearing a pink dress with a purple jacket. She wore a pair of tan knee-high boots that just barely covered her legs. "We need your help."
"why can't you just ask yer mom, kid? she too good to save her own world now?" Red taunted, crossing his arms over his chest and chuckling.
Grimacing at his remark, Cherry shook her head. "Mom's been kidnapped by a far more violent version of you."
"Look, we need all the help we can get. We figured that... if we rally all the alternate tangents Sanses together, we should be able to knock her back to her senses." Yonk explained while stepping up behind Cherry and dismissing his own magic. "Who better to beat down a Sans than a bunch of Sanses?"
"Yonky, we really shouldn't-" Faliko started.
"i'm in." Red responded immediately.
"What?" They all blurted.
"if what yer little green friend there said is true, then we can't let this dangerous version of me run around doin' whatever the hell he pleases." Red walked over towards Cherry, slinging an arm over her and jostling her slightly. "besides, i wouldn't want anythin' bad to happen to my little cherrypie."
"A little late there, Uncle Red." Cherry muttered. "We'll explain more at the Chamber."
"It's our base. Seeing as how every version of Sans is a judge of some sort, we built a base with a magic field that should protect the time/space structure. We called it the Chamber." Yonk answered. Engulfing everyone in a wave of purple electricity, Yonk teleported everyone into the base. Decorating the walls of the Chamber were crystals that sparkled every now and then. "Welcome to the Chamber."
Red eyed the area carefully when he spotted a tear in reality. "mind explainin' what that is?"
"Ten bucks says it's Kro." responded Dat from his position on the top tier of the Chamber. Snapping off a sarcastic salute towards Red, he watched carefully as Krogiir stepped out from the tear with a vest-clad skeleton. "Told ya. Yo Kro, how was Underlust?"
"Shut up." Krogiir grumbled, a light blush dusting his cheeks as he pushed Underlust Sans towards the center of the room. He glanced around the Chamber and spotted their Sans reclined in one of the swivel chairs, napping away. "Do we have everyone?"
"Yes." Cherry answered, stepping forward and shucking off her jacket. "Everyone, gather around."
Everyone gathered around in front of Cherry. Red shuffled uncomfortably at the sight of Lust and Sans in the same universe. Krogiir and Dat waltzed over to the group and stood still. Yonk and Faliko remained where they had teleported. "so what's the plan?" Sans asked directly.
"Well, here's what we know so far." Yonk started, stepping to the front and opening a display using crystal energy from the Chamber's main magic reserves. "Zerrus disappeared from the alternate universe known as Underswap 6 years ago. Paps, as she labelled him, has been cleared."
"thanks for the introduction, kid." replied a rather mellow yet nasally voice. Turning towards the voice, the trio of skeletons noted an orange hoodied skeleton with a cigarette hanging from his teeth. "sup?"
"Tell everyone what you witnessed that day, Paps."
"well, the lady just collapsed after i accused her of being the anomaly and started laughing hysterically. saying stuff like 'why do i bother' and 'how much more can i take before i go insane'. she then said that it was someone's plan to make her break."
Everyone remained silent as they processed this information.
"that's when these blue threads appeared outta nowhere and sucked her into this white void."
"based on that, whoever kidnapped her clearly took advantage of her weak state. this sort of thing is normal." Lust replied casually, shifting his weight from one foot to the other.
"In your universe perhaps, but this happened to a universal traveller. For that to happen, someone else with the ability to travel through different universes must've tailed her." Cherry remarked with a glare. "That's what confused Sans and myself for so long." Turning to face Yonk she held her hand out. "That's when Yonk's consistent pestering finally led us to the key. After bugging me for weeks about my constant apathy, we told him the situation and he immediately pinpointed the main problem within a matter of minutes. Tell them."
Stepping up front, Yonk cleared his throat. "After reviewing the footage of Underswap through the UTD, I determined the source of her disappearance and we eliminated the primary target as the cause. But since we weren't sure, we investigated the enemy faction's base. That's when we met the true culprit. A black skeleton with red eyesockets and a demented grin. He addressed himself as Error." he explained.
"so when you said 'who better to beat down a sans than a bunch of sanses'... you literally meant it." Red mumbled.
"Yes. But he's a threat for more than one reason. He restricted Yonk's movements entirely which left me wide open for an attack." Cherry began.
"He ordered Zerrus to teach Cherry a lesson. And Zerrus did it without even batting an eye." Yonk finished.
"that doesn't make any sense. i know zerrus. she threatened to kill me if i hurt you, kid. why would she-?" Lust staggered back slightly in shock.
"Error has my mother's soul in his grasp. Which is why we CAN'T fight to kill with Error. We need to get her soul AWAY from him before doing that." Cherry explained. "But he won't leave an opening so easily. Knowing him, he'll send Zerrus out first. We need to detain her and trap her in a magic inhibition field. That will call him out to retrieve his 'pet'."
"wait. lemme see if i got this right... we need to capture zerrus in a spell circle of some sort, get error to come outta hiding, get zerrus's soul away from him, and then kill him?" Red summarized.
"Roughly. But here's the challenge; Zerrus isn't phased by attacks of ANY strength. So what we have to do is use FORCE to push her into the trap. which is why we'll be divided into teams." Cherry removed the display and brought up two colored spell circles on the ground. "Green Team will focus on pushing her BACK from the Heartseed and into the trap. Red Team will be the team that focuses on taking back her soul from Error."
"But who will destroy Error?" Yonk interjected.
Chapter 7: Battle of Memorials
Everyone lies in wait and prepares to do anything to protect the Heartseed.
Everyone stood anxiously in their positions, waiting for their target to arrive for their intended purpose. Shifting her weight from leg to leg to keep them from falling asleep, Cherry remained crouched and hidden in the shadows of the Caverns in one of the many nooks and crannys that the natural cavern walls provided. Crouched near her were the Judges, waiting for the signal to move. The sound of the air tearing nearby brought their attention to a white shimmer and the woman that stepped out. Her dim ruby-red eyes locked on to Cherry's blue ones for only a moment, then panned over to the Heartseed.
Yonk, Faliko, Dat, and Krogiir stepped out from behind the natural cover of the waterfall from the Heartseed and stared her down. Taking a single step forward, Dat challenged Zerrus. "You need to stop this, Zerrus. Come back to your senses and come back to us!" he yelled, throwing an arm back and sending a burst of magic towards her.
Her hair billowing back from the force of the magic, Zerrus remained still despite the intent of the magic. Blinking casually, she held her arm outwards and called forth her weapon, the murky blue magic wavering in the air around the blade. Narrowing her gaze at them, she shot forward with full intent on attacking them with her sword raised. Rushing forward with shield in tow, Faliko effortlessly blocked the attack aimed for Dat and countered with an upward swing of her mace. Bouncing back from the counterattack, Zerrus returned the counter with a sideswipe, only to have that countered by a simple grab.
Hindering her movements for a moment, she staggered backwards and locked her gaze onto the one who grabbed her- Krogiir. Her eyes shimmered for only a moment, then she brought her attention up to the Heartseed. Lunging forward in an attempt to attack the Heartseed, she was impeded by a wall of electricity that knocked her back. "Come on now. Do you really think we'd let you try that again without some sort of shield?" Yonk taunted, shrugging nonchalantly and shaking his head. "You gotta give us SOME credit."
Moving to stand up, Zerrus found that she had been paralyzed by the electrical current that still moved in her body. "How?" she growled out, her voice still partially distorted.
"Simple mathematics. I took into account my electrical powers, your resistances to attacks, and the human body's reactions to electricity." Yonk stepped up to Zerrus and tapped her shoulder, her body jerking almost immediately from the aftershocks of the magic wall. "You'll be fine, but you're not going anywhere."
As if on cue a disgruntled, black skeleton stepped into view with a scowl drawn on his face. His blue eyelights spotted Zerrus's prone form and he scoffed. "lOoKs LiKe I'lL hAvE tO dO tHiS mYsElF." he grumbled, snapping his fingers and summoning a large number of bone constructs. Sending them flying towards the Heartseed, Error grinned widely as they closed the distance. A white-hot blast of magic destroyed the bones that threatened the Heartseed, its source hidden in the shadows. Reeling towards the source of the magic, Error spotted a blaster with a single blue glowing eye. "a BlAsTeR? hEh... GuEsS i ShOuLd HaVe ExPeCtEd YoU tO bE hErE."
"if you knew i'd be here, then why are you here?" Sans inquired, stepping out from the shadows with his eyesockets void of his eyelights.
"fIrSt, LeT's CaLl OuT yOuR fRiEnDs." Error waved his hand, a terrifying amount of blue threads whipping out and grabbing their hidden force in the shadows. Literally dragging them out from their hiding spots, Error chuckled under his breath. Dragging Cherry out from her little nook, Error brought her mere inches from his face. "Is ThIs YoUr IdEa Of ReTaLiAtIoN?"
"Why are you trying to destroy the Heartseed?" Cherry firmly questioned, her posture unreadable despite being handled by the threads once again.
"tHiS uNiVeRsE... tHiS tImElInE sHoUlD nOt ExIsT. sHe Is PrOoF oF tHiS." Error pointed towards Zerrus, her body still prone and occasionally twitching on the ground. Error pulled the dim blue and red soul from the confines of his ribcage and hovered it in front of them. "aN oMeGa SoUl. I nEvEr ThOuGhT sUcH a ThInG cOuLd Be PoSsIbLe."
"What does this have to do with you wanting to destroy the Heartseed?"
"If ThIs TiMeLiNe MaNaGeD tO pRoDuCe A wEaPoN oF sUcH pOwEr, It CaN't StAy."
"Suck the breath right out of the cold."
"You have been told..." Cherry narrowed her eyes on Zerrus's soul, watching as the colors slowly brightened and regained their luster. "It's not allowed if you're proud to be bold."
"WhAt ArE yOu DoInG?"
"You are alone... you are alone..." Glancing up at Error, her eye sparked a violet flame. "I want to hear you scream!"
Shredding the threads that bound her and the others, Cherry launched forward with her scythe in hand. Paps and Red followed with attacks from the sides and Lust teleported behind Error. Swinging the scythe in a sideways motion, she anticipated Error to jump back from the attack. Error did, right into the maw of one of Sans's blasters which bit down only hard enough to restrain his movements. Moving quickly, Cherry made a grab for Zerrus's soul and snatched it from his grip. Rushing over to Zerrus and placing her soul back in her chest, Cherry watched as Zerrus's eyes brightened to their original sheen.
An unexpected wave of chains shot past her head and wrapped around Error. Struggling to stand, Zerrus locked eyes with him as she staggered forward. Yanking Error from the mouth of Sans's blaster, everyone watched with careful eyes as she placed him down in front of him. Delivering a powerful right hook to his jaw, Zerrus sent Error flying into the Cavern wall. "I think you deserved that." Zerrus snarled with her voice normal again, a bright blue magic gathering around her. Error grunted in both pain and denial, then vanished into the anti-void. "Running like a dog with his tail between his legs..."
Turning to face everyone, Zerrus's eyes fell upon Cherry's first which were clouded over from tears. "Is it really you, mom?" Cherry sniffled.
Nodding Zerrus opened her arms. "It's really me." Crashing into her and sobbing loudly, Cherry cried happily as her mother pet her hair. "You've really grown up... I'm sorry for everything, sweetheart."
"I- I don't blame you for what happened, mom. I'm just so happy you're here!" Cherry cried, hugging Zerrus even tighter. Looking up from her daughter, Zerrus caught the gaze of everyone on her.
"glad to have you back, zerrus." Sans commented with a smile, extending his hand. Taking it, Zerrus heard the distinct sound of a whoopie cushion sounding off and snorted.
"Glad to be back, boneboy." Zerrus chuckled, crossing her arms and looking around as her gaze landed on Yonk and Faliko. "Are these your friends?"
Yonk stepped forward, extending his hand while Zerrus eyed him cautiously. "Don't worry ma'am, you won't be shocked again. My name's Yonk." he introduced as Zerrus took his hand in a firm handshake. "Sorry about that, by the way."
"No need to apologize, Yonk. I was in the wrong. Not you." she reminded, turning towards Faliko and smiling. "You had excellent countering manuevers against my attacks. Good job."
"Thank you, miss. I'm Faliko." Faliko bowed slightly. "Cherry has been working really hard trying to find you."
"I know..." Zerrus nervously grabbed her arm and rubbed while shifting uneasily. "Long time no see, Red. And don't think I forgot about you, Paps."
"you still owe my brother a dinner with his 'friendship tacos'." Paps responded, casually lighting a cigarette and blowing a small column of smoke.
"and you owe me fer leavin' yer kid with me then disappearin'." Red replied.
"I owe everyone more than that. I owe you all more than an apology." Zerrus murmured. "I doubt it'll be easy, but I WILL make it up to you for everything." Glancing up from under her hair, she locked her red eyes onto Sans's eyelights. "And that's a promise."
"it wasn't your fault." Sans remarked.
"Regardless of whether it was my fault or not, I committed these acts and nearly destroyed the land I swore to protect. I will never let someone use me like that again." Standing straight and looking towards the direction she had thrown Error and caught the sight of a very slim tear. "It'll start with me correcting an abomination."
Summoning her sword, the once faded magic was now a deep blue, a red gem embedded into the handle of the blade. A swarm of rainbow-colored crystals imploded towards her in that same moment, replacing the tattered gown she was wearing to her skin-tight bodysuit. The look in her eyes was pure revenge, anger, and hatred. Turning towards the other Guardians, she glanced over to Sans, Lust, Red and Paps.
"I know you can't exactly allow me to take another's life, but I hope you can understand my position." Zerrus commented, shouldering her sword and shifting on her feet nervously. "As the Judge, I know you'll have to enact the appropriate punishment for my actions. I haven't forgotten that. But I'm not going to stand around and let Error try to destroy the Heartseed again." Holding her sword to the Heartseed, a blue and red light began to cascade towards her. "It is our duty as Eternal Guardians to protect the Heartseed, regardless of our morales."
Faliko raised her mace towards the Heartseed, a green light raining down upon her. "To protect the innocent." she continued.
Yonk willed his contructs upwards, a purple light showering him. "To never give up in the face of adversity."
Dat opened his grimoire, an orange and green light shining from the pages. "To never back down from a challenge."
Cherry jammed the handle of her scythe into the ground, sitting on the blade as a mixture of purple and red smoke rolling out around the blade. "To stay determined."
"That is what makes us the Eternal Guardians. And despite your roles, we have to do whatever it takes to keep the Heartseed safe." Zerrus lowered her blade, turning it towards herself for a moment. "From anyone." Then towards Sans. "Even you." Tilting her head slightly, she held eye contact with him. "Do you understand?"
Red stepped up front, his hands in his pockets and a deep chuckle rumbling in his ribcage. "look doll, after everythin' we went through to get ya back, we ain't gonna back down now."
Sighing deeply, Paps flicked away the remnants of his cigarette and turned towards her. "as much as i disagree with the nature of his universe, he's right. we can't back down now."
"with a version of us running rampant with the knowledge of an omega soul's vulnerabilities, it'll only be a matter of time until he takes advantage of that and try to manipulate you again." Lust remarked as he strut closer to Zerrus.
"what do you say, me's? should we overlook zerrus's plan to kill?" Sans called out.
The Judges voiced their agreement.
"Then it's settled. We hunt for Error and erase him!" Zerrus shouted, raising her weapon high in the air with a battle cry. The Guardians followed suit, each howling their own cries as a rainbow of colors from their magic danced along the crystals of the Memorial Caverns. "We can't go about this blindly, Guardians. The pincer attack was effective but I highly doubt he'll fall for it again. After all the years being captive, I've learned his body language. He's planning something... and we need to stop it."
Chapter 8: Reconnect to Recovery
Zerrus has returned from the Anti-Void, but her magic hasn't. Facing this problem, Sans and the others are willing to force her to fix this.
It had been several days since Cherry and the other Guardians recruited the help of the different Sanses and a Papyrus to save Zerrus from the clutches of a sociopathic version of Sans. Whatever Error had done to her while in captivity clearly showed side effects based on her constantly sleeping, her lack of energy after the battle, and her complete apathy toward everything. Cherry was starting to grow concerned. Sure, Zerrus had been through a lot and no doubt had used a lot of her magic reserves trying to escape during the 6 years she was gone, but her clear signs of magic depletion for more than 3 days has become far more concerning.
Zerrus was resting on the couch, her face pale and her skin looked clammy. Out of instinct, Cherry kneeled and placed a damp rag on her mother's forehead, hoping that would relieve any pain. Zerrus groaned in protest for a moment, then turned away, Cherry pulling the rag away from her face and frowning.
She was so focused on her mother that she didn't even recognize the distinct yet subtle sound of the air tearing.
"cherry." Sans called out calmly. Cherry turned around, spotting her version of Sans and his usual grin was nowhere to be seen. "i've got some bad news for you."
"I figured as much. You wouldn't be here with a grimace like that if there was good news." Cherry responded, turning back towards Zerrus as she groaned again, curling inwards towards the back of the couch and burrowing in the cushions. She heard Sans chuckle slightly, then watched out of the corner of her eye as he approached Zerrus and bent down.
"not the first time i've seen her like this, curled up into the couch. first time i saw her like this, she looked like a burrito."
"What's wrong with her? I've spent hours just trying to figure it out. I can't make heads or tails on what's wrong with her."
"error did something with her soul, literally damaging it more than it was before she had fallen into his grasp." Sans started, waving his hand with a slight blue sheen radiating from his fingertips. From the kitchen, Cherry heard the tell-tale signs of coffee being poured into one of the mugs. On cue, a mug fluttered out of the kitchen and into Sans's hand. "she's suffering from a magic withdrawal, yet at the same time she's also being overdosed with magic."
"How is that possible?"
"has your mother ever told you about her history within the sacred grove?" Cherry shook her head. "zerrus is the famous royal guardsman known as rainbow wind. she earned this name when battling against a pixie who threatened to destroy the heartseed. during that battle, he used a dark magic that settled within her soul for more than a year. a year later, she was kidnapped by an unknown force that manipulated her soul directly, morphing her body into what it is now; a mutation between human and pixie."
"Humans aren't supposed to use magic... that's why SHE can. But... why does she hide this?"
"she's... i remember her telling a good friend of mine that she wasn't ashamed, just tired of the discrimination. she and your father were treated as exiles because of their mutations. she- a human/pixie hybrid, and him- a human/fox hybrid. the soulbond they possess was formed because of their pain."
"But what does this have to do with magic poisoning her?"
"because pixies provide the world with life magic. with her being gone for 6 years, her body lost its connection with the life magic that fuels this world. not only is her magic depleted from error using her as a weapon, it's rejecting the life magic."
"Is there anything we can do to help her?" Dat asked from atop the stairs, leaning against the railing with his arms crossed over his chest. "I know what it's like to be sick, but she's got it pretty bad. Surely you can think of something to help."
"the only option i can think of is trying to force her soul to reconnect to the life magic. but... with the condition of her soul..." Sans trailed off, sipping on his coffee and shaking his head.
"What?" Cherry inquired, sitting up to dab Zerrus's forehead with the rag again, only for Zerrus to turn around with blank eyes.
"My soul could shatter." she coughed out, rolling on to her other side and staring off at the floor.
"You know the danger... are you willing to go through with it?" Dat asked, sitting on the bottom step.
"Only if this gets worse." Zerrus responded, rolling back over to burrow into the couch's soft confines. "I really don't want to move at this rate... everything just hurts."
"that's understandable. according to gaster, for a soul to be disconnected from magic for so long is the equivalent of having your muscles inactive for weeks at a time." Sans explained. "the only way this will get better is if you reconnect with the life magic. but since your magic reserves are depleted, it could take months."
"We don't HAVE months. Error is still out there. I know his weaknesses and I can't just have someone substitute me."
"Why not? I think it'd be safer." Dat commented.
"It's not a matter of safety. It's a matter that only I can do this." Zerrus barked back.
"Where can we go to reconnect her soul with Life Magic?" Cherry asked while turning her attention away from Zerrus.
"i think it's up to zerrus if she wants to be forcefully reconnected." Sans remarked while drinking his coffee. "she doesn't want to risk it unless her condition gets worse."
"I don't care. We need to have her reconnected." Turning back to Zerrus, Cherry rolled her mother over only to get a stonecold stare. "I know you don't want to do this, but we're going to. You DON'T have a choice, mom."
"Don't I?" she replied angrily, sitting up and placing a hand on her temple. She rubbed gently, then broke out into a coughing fit. After a several moments of just her hacking out a lung, she glanced up from under her bangs to see Sans, Cherry, and Dat giving her a look that read 'Are-You-Going-To-Reconsider?' which caused her to jump slightly. "You really AREN'T giving me a choice... are you?"
"nope." Sans responded, grabbing her arm and teleporting the both of them to a familiar house.
"Why'd you bring me to Toriel's place?"
"the least i can do to help is let tori stall your symptoms." Sans knocked on the door, his grip still firm on her arm. Toriel opened the door, her gentle smile shining down towards Sans and her gaze roaming over to Zerrus. The second she saw the state she was in, Toriel hastily brought the both of them inside.
"Have a seat, I'll get you some golden flower tea."
Toriel practically forced Zerrus to sit down on the couch, her big fluffy paws gently pushing her down onto the soft cushions. Staring down at the carpet, she heard the pitter-patter of feet rush over to her, then a weight settle on the couch with her. A tap on her shoulder brought her attention over to the one responsible; a familiar child who had grown up quite a bit in her absence.
"Hey Frisk. How've ya been?" Zerrus greeted, trying her hardest to hide the exhaustion from her voice.
*Good. But you don't sound good.* They signed, a concerned frown drawn on their gentle face.
"That's... expected. I've been gone without medical treatment for 6 years."
"kid, you need to tell me where we can reconnect you with the life magic." Sans demanded silently.
"I can't." Zerrus responded, grabbing the tea Toriel offered her and sipping it. The healing magic the tea would've provided eased the coughing and the fever, but her magic reserves still remained empty.
"we've been over this. you don't have a choice. now... where... do... we... go?"
"Not. Happening." Zerrus growled back, her eyes boring into his empty sockets. A smaller paw landed on her shoulder, drawing her attention for a moment only to see a young monster she had redeemed long ago.
"You've done so much for me miss, but now you need to help yourself." Asriel whispered, his paw rubbing her shoulder in a comforting manner.
Sucking in a deep breath, Zerrus finally surrendered her will. "Fine... we need to see Eggert the Mad, in Blackspore. If we're going, you'd better be ready to defend yourself from spirits, wolves, vampires, all sorts of indigenous creatures that WILL attack on sight." Standing up, Zerrus attempted to summon her sword, only to get a painful jolt in her soul which sent her falling down to her knee. "Don't suppose you have a bat or something I could use?" Zerrus asked Asriel and Frisk, her balance weak from the initial jolt.
Frisk held up a finger and dashed off deeper into the house, returning with a small dagger, still sheathed. Pulling the dagger from the sheath only slightly to inspect the blade, Zerrus felt Sans's gaze burn into the back of her head. Snapping the small blade back into the sheath, she clipped it to her belt and nodded to Frisk. She went to say something when Frisk beat her to it. *Bring it back when you're ready.*
Nodding with silent thanks, Zerrus turned towards Sans. "Do you know where Blackspore is?"
"nah. never been. does dat know how to teleport?" Sans inquired, extending his hand for Zerrus to take as they prepared to shortcut back to her house.
"Yeah, but I don't want to involve anyone else in this. Just you."
"i'm flattered kid, but how else are we going to get you to blackspore without dat?"
"Simple. Get me to the Town Square here. There's a warp stone that many travellers use to go from place to place." Zerrus answered, unaware of the fact that she was in her house and being watched by Cherry and Dat.
"Is she doing better now?" Cherry asked.
"a bit better, and she told me who can help her." Sans replied, shoving his hands into his hoodie pockets. "i'm gonna take her to see them. you two hang back here. i'll text you in case something goes wrong."
Dragging Zerrus out of the house and walking to the Town Square, Zerrus stood before a beige stone that hovered above the ground. "This is the warp stone. Just keep your hand on my shoulder and you should warp to the same destination as me." she explained, stepping up to the stone and placing a shakey hand on it. A cyan light shone bright, sending Sans and Zerrus shooting through the void in an instant and in a completely new area. The hustle and bustle of the city was now replaced by a dark swamp. "Welcome to Blackspore, Sans."
"this is blackspore? why do you humans even have this as a region?" Sans asked, his voice steady but his emotions betraying his own posture.
"Some of the local residents became cursed and choose to live here. Vampires and Werewolves mostly. Some Changelings. These people are still civilized, it's just that society such as Sanctuary wouldn't allow them unless it were closer to October. That's when they are allowed free passage." Zerrus explained. A low growl rumbled from behind her, causing her to whip around just in time to see a savage wolf lunge at her face. Struggling to unsheath the dagger, Zerrus bounced back from the wolf as fast as she could as it's fangs threatened to punctured her.
Sans sprinted forward, kicking the wolf out of the way and grabbing her arm. "this way!" he yelled, running off towards the bowing trees and blinking every so often to avoid the local creatures as they woke from their slumber. "what the hell is going on here?!"
"I should've known... I completely forgot that my blood is refined. The feral wolves smelled the refined blood and they want it for themselves."
"what are you talking about?" Sans barked out, jumping onto one of the trees and dragging Zerrus on to his back. Struggling to catch her breath, Zerrus watched in fear as Sans watched with careful eyelights as a pack of wolves flocked around them. "explain now. while we're still alive and they aren't munching on my bones."
"I was here years ago. I'm part of one of the factions that live here. Werewolf. Why do you think I turned into a damn blueberry fuzzball?"
"werewolf? kid, you aren't making much sense to me."
"Every year the vampires and werewolves of this territory fight over ownership of this land. Each year, they choose a representative. I know one of them. If we could find the Alpha, Misty Azurebay, we might be able to call off the pack. That might secure our safe travel to Eggert."
"i don't want to be a snack, kid. you better hope this works."
"Me too man..." Zerrus remarked, sliding off his back and onto a branch. "Thanks for the bail though."
After several hours traversing the swamp, Zerrus and Sans came along a large, hollowed-out tree. Inside was a tan wolf with a pink tank top and torn shorts, her blue eyes shimmering slightly as she spotted Zerrus. "Long time no see, Zerin!" she called out, waving to Zerrus.
"zerin? i thought your name was zerrus." Sans whispered.
"It is, but my wolf pack name is Zerin Teknis. I'm just a pup." Zerrus replied, stepping up to Misty and crouching down. "Misty, we need safe passage to the Blackspore Outpost."
"Eh? Safe passage? The roads aren't safe?" Misty asked a string of questions.
"What is it? Vampires?"
"No. Feral wolves. They attacked me and my friend." Zerrus called Sans over, slinging a defensive arm over him and bringing him into a sideways hug. "He's from Mt. Ebott."
"Oh! I heard about you guys! Monsters right?"
"that's right." Sans answered.
"Gotta admit, you look pretty tasty." Misty commented with a grin.
"Misty, he's trying to help me. I've lost ALL of my magic reserves. I can't even properly transform anymore." Zerrus growled quietly, locking her arm tightly around Sans's shoulders.
"That's not good... We need our star pup for the battle in a few months. We can't do it without our little blue fluffbutt." She chuckled, poking Zerrus's forehead and pouncing her way up to the top of the hollowed-out tree. "I'll inform the packs to leave you two alone. Get better soon now, alright Zerin?"
"Will do, Misty. Thanks for the help!" Zerrus called out, grabbing Sans's hand and rushing out of the tree and down the dirt road as fast as she could. She could hear the sound of Sans's slippers scuffing along the road as he struggled to keep up with her as she sprint down the road and towards the lights. Slowing down to catch her breath, Zerrus bent over and coughed roughly. "Haven't... booked it that fast... since the first battle..."
"blue fluffbutt?" Sans finally asked outta nowhere, causing Zerrus to turn around with her face lit up. "never thought you'd let a nickname like that slide so easily."
"It's cause she's a girl, Sans. Don't think you can say it just cause she did. In fact... forget you ever heard that. That part of my life ended when monsters came to the surface." Zerrus grumbled as she continued down the path. "The vampires and werewolves in this area still fight each other, but not nearly as harshly as they did prior to your emergence."
"so... you're a werewolf?"
"Not necessarily. I only use that form when my spiritual animal feels a strong connection to the situation. The last time my full form was used was a year before the barrier fell..." Zerrus began, staring forward, shaking her head immediately and turning to face him. "Let's just get to Eggert... We've wasted enough time already."
Arriving at the outpost, Zerrus stepped up to the maroon tent that housed the Changeling hard at work. "Confound it all, where did I put those notes?" he mumbled to hmself as he shuffled around his tent and turned things over. His big, black eyes fell onto her and he smiled wide. "Long time no see, my savior! My, oh my it has been many years since I last saw you and your spouse!"
"Glad to see you, Eggert." Zerrus responded while shaking his branched hand. "Unfortunately, I need your help."
"But of course! I still owe you for saving my life all those years ago! What is it that you need, my dear?" Eggert chirped, shuffling over to Zerrus while wiping his glasses on his apron.
"I've lost my inherant connection with the Life Magic of this world. I need to be reconnected immediately. I can't wait."
Eggert looked up from under his large monocle, his eye partially fogged, but not impaired enough to not see the determination etched onto her face. Along with that determination was hesitation. "Another threat?"
He leaned over and looked at Sans, then looked up at Zerrus. "Your friend?"
"He does not need to be reconnected. He was here to protect me."
"Protect? You? HAH!" Eggert burst out laughing, scratching his white hair with his red branched arm and picking at a leaf that jutted out from a branch on his head. "Whatever happened to you my dear, that must've been some power."
"it's not like that, sir." Sans muttered while remaining near the entrance to the tent. "she was kept in a place completely isolated from the natural flow of life magic and it left her vulnerable."
"I see..." Eggert stepped away from Zerrus and to the trunk at the back of his tent, riffling around in it until he pulled out a green bottle. "This should do it. Just drink this tonic and you should be reconnected in no time, my dear!" He handed Zerrus the sickly green bottle, which she eyed cautiously and with an obvious grimace. "You may want to pinch your nose! It does not taste very good."
"Thanks for the warning, Eggert." Zerrus thanked, pulling the cork off the bottle and staring at the bottle for a few more seconds. Taking a deep breath, she downed the entire bottle in one swig and gagged loudly. Keeling over, she felt something was wrong.
Sensing this, Sans rushed over to Zerrus and placed a gentle hand on her back as she dry-heaved. "what the hell?! is this normal?!" Sans seemingly demanded answers. Eggert looked just as confused as them, his black eyes shrunk down and a grimace drawn on his bluish skin. A burst of air knocked Sans away from her, sending him falling flat on his ass and Eggert staggering backwards while holding his mutated arm up to block the wind.
When Sans looked back up, a pair of paperthin, butterfly-like, red wings were firmly attatched to Zerrus's back. Upon closer inspection, Sans noticed that she was definitely much smaller than she was just a minute ago. When Zerrus glanced up, her eyes were much bigger than before, but still the same bright red, her reticle missing. She looked up at Sans, then over to Eggert. "What? Something on my face?"
"more like on your back, kid." Sans answered, his voice trembling slightly.
"My... back?" Looking behind her, Zerrus saw the paperthin wings that were attached to her body. When she sucked in her breath, the wings twitched in agitation. "No... Nonononono NO!"
"It... appears that the tonic worked a little too well." Eggert mumbled, stepping closer to Zerrus. "Are you in any pain, my dear?"
Glaring daggers at Eggert, a blue flame licked at her left eye which caused Sans to jump in front of Eggert. "hey, don't be mad at eggert, kid. if you have anyone you should be mad at, it's me. i forced you into this." Sans defended.
"Phoenix pattern... Hollow-boned... You are definitely a Pixie now." Eggert remarked, crossing his arms and frowning slightly. "I am sorry."
"What am I going to do now?!" Zerrus shouted, her wings fluttering with her anger, but not picking her off the ground. She went to stand when Eggert pushed her back to the ground.
"Do not stand. You are hollow-boned now, so your weight will break your legs if you try to walk."
Sans sighed in defeat and bent down in front of Zerrus. "get on, kid. i'll carry you." he ordered. Zerrus climbed on to Sans's back and gently wrapped her small arms around his shoulders. He stood up, supporting her very light weight and turned to face Eggert. "i guess we should thank you for reconnecting her to the life magic... but-"
"I am at error here. I should have given her a smaller dose of the tonic instead of instructing her to consume the entire bottle." Eggert interrupted, shaking his head as he shuffled over to his chest once more. He pulled out an address book and handed it to Zerrus. "These are Pixies I am friends with throughout the Grove. Tell them I sent you. They should be able to teach you how to be a Pixie."
"Thanks... I guess..." Zerrus grumbled slightly, shoving the book in her now too large pants pocket and latching back onto Sans. "Let's go home..."
"right..." Sans muttered as he shortcutted them through the void and back into Sanctuary.
Fun fact: I was sick with a nasty bronchial flu while writing this. Surprised I could even pop this chapter out.
Chapter 9: Sunrise, Soulset
Zerrus tries to cope with her new lifestyle, but when her soul starts to interfere with her thoughts she finally acts.
Zerrus sat on the back porch of the skeleton brother's home, staring off into the sunrise as hundreds of thoughts flooded through her mind. The only reason she was with the skeleton brothers was because of the recent events that changed her once more. As far as she knew, only Sans and Papyrus could carry her due to her frail frame and weight. With the lack of skin and muscle, it reduces the risk of damaging her bones or her wings. With that knowledge tickling the back of her mind, she tried to focus on how she and the other Guardians were going to take down Error with this new problem.
Being so focused on her problems, she didn't even noticed the hoodie-clad skeleton standing behind her. When she turned her head to look at him, a large number of hotdogs came crashing down. Going absolutely still and trying to process what had just happened, she looked up at him with her big red eyes. "Welp... ain't nothin' like wakin' up with a face full o' weiner." She spoke with a slight southern drawl, turning around entirely to face Sans who was struggling not to laugh. "So, what are you doing up? Besides putting hotdogs on my head..."
Sans sighed, shuffling awkwardly before sitting down beside Zerrus on the deck while being cautious of her wings. Once he situated himself, he stared forward towards the sunrise. "i don't sleep well, kid." he responded bluntly. Nodding slightly, Zerrus turned back around and went back to her thoughts while watching the sunrise. "beautiful... isn't it? while monsters were trapped underground, we never had the chance to see the sun or the stars."
"I can relate to your pain now..." she mumbled, glaring down at her hands and balling them up slightly. "It's not right what we did to you all those years ago... to strip away something as beautiful as nature."
"so. what are you doing up?" Sans finally asked back.
"I can't sleep." She responded quickly. She felt a strange pulling sensation at her soul, which caused her to instinctively put her hand to her chest. "I can't understand..." She mumbled more to herself than to him.
"hm?" Sans hummed questioningly.
Shaking her head quickly, Zerrus scooted a bit further away from Sans. "It's nothing."
"how'd you get out here without me or paps's help, kid?"
Staring forward, Zerrus blunk a few times before shaking her head slowly. "No idea. I just... did?" She felt her soul flutter more intensely than usual, then coughed in a feeble attempt to settle it. "It's hard to adjust to this. Being a pixie. For years I've lived and even battled side-by-side with fellow pixie warriors, but to experience their livestyle for myself? It really changes your aspects." Chuckling lightly, she placed a firm hand on her soul and glanced up at Sans past her eyelids. "But after what I had gone through with the Underground, I'm starting to think that this whole 'walk-a-mile-in-their-shoes' thing is just a test of patience and willpower."
"what brings that up?" Sans inquired, shuffling closer to her.
Feeling her soul jerk from his presence being so close by, she shook her head and shut her eyes. "All I've ever known in my life is pain. It's not been all sunshine, flowers, and daisies for me. You know this." Gripping the front of the shirt she had borrowed from him and clenching it tightly, she took a deep breath. "I'm starting to wonder though... why? What purpose does all my pain serve? Haven't I felt enough pain? Haven't I suffered enough?"
A single teardrop fell onto the back of her hand.
"kid?" Sans started to worry slightly. Zerrus only broke down in front of him once before, but her reaction was rather volatile. Sensing the oncoming emotional breakdown, he wrapped and arm around her and pulled her to his side. "it's alright to cry. you know that better than anybody. but you're holding yourself back. you're just hurting yourself more by bottling it all in."
Resigning herself, she sunk a bit further into him and let off a shakey sigh. "It's a reforming pressure. I've cried about it time and time again. But in the end... it will never change anything. I can't stop my feelings from screwing with me."
"it's about your dad, isn't it?" Zerrus nodded, her breath catching in her throat for a moment before dissolving into a little cough. "i used to know that feeling, but it's thanks to you that i don't feel it anymore." She looked up at him for a moment. "you brought him back to me and paps. i can never thank you enough for that. i wish there was something i could do for you now."
"Sans?" Zerrus called out quietly, her soul thrumming a bit more. "I need to ask something important."
"Is it possible for someone to have more than one soulmate?" She blurted out. Sans stilled for a moment, then looked down at her face to see if she was just kidding with him.
"w-why bring that up outta nowhere?" He all but nervously giggled out.
"I'm asking... because when I'm near you, my chest hurts. I'm not sure if it's something to do with Error having held me in captivity for so long... or if it's something else... but I feel like there's something there, in my soul." She explained while clutching the front of her shirt again. "For a while now, I've tried to decipher what it is but keep coming up empty. So, I had to swallow my pride... push back my restraints... even settle my morales. All just to ask this."
Sans kept his eyelights locked onto her, but refused to speak.
"So... is it possible for someone who is already soulbonded to have a soulmate?"
"heh. hard to say for sure, kid. you'd be the first." Sans all but managed to say as he turned his slightly blushed face away from her gaze. "we can ask alphys about it if you really want to know."
"Alright then." Zerrus responded, staring forward at the sunrise for a moment longer then wrapping one of her small arms around his larger one. "I'm ready to go ask her then."
Nodding with a slight grunt of affirmation, Sans stood up first and dusted off his hoodie. He then bent down and Zerrus latched onto him like a winged koala, as she had been doing the past few days. In a blink, she found herself in front of an unfamiliar home which she had to recognize as Alphys's house. She only hoped that Alphys remembered her through the reset mess that had occurred 6 years ago. Ringing the doorbell, Sans doublechecked the make sure that Zerrus was still attached to him to reduce the risk of falling. Her grip on his shoulders while gentle, was firm.
A small yellow lizard monster opened the door, which Zerrus immediately recognized as Dr. Alphys. When her eyes fell on Sans she smiled gently, but when she locked eyes with Zerrus she froze up for a moment. "Ah shit. Heh. She doesn't know." Zerrus chuckled a bit nervously.
"W-What happened to you? Is everything o-okay?" Alphys stuttered frantically as she drug Sans and Zerrus in tow into the doorway of the house. "U-UNDYNE! Come here, p-please!"
"Undyne lives here, too?" Zerrus whispered under her breath. Her eyes widened almost immediately, then she smiled softly. "Cute."
"What's wrong, Alph?" Undyne spoke. When she saw Zerrus, she stared at her for a long moment. "What happened? Did you shrink a few inches while you were gone?"
"That's... not why I'm here." She answered, glancing up at Sans and then to Alphys and Undyne. "Can we come inside? I'd much rather discuss this in a private environment."
"O-Of course! Please, c-come on in." Alphys ushered Sans inside while he still carried Zerrus. "Sans."
"yeah?" he replied.
"Why are you c-carrying her like that?" She crept a bit closer to Zerrus, a mischievous grin drawing on her face. "Are you two...?"
If Zerrus's eyes could've gone any bigger, they would look like rutger tomatoes. "Well, aren't YOU quick to conclusions." Zerrus managed to giggle out. "That's part of the reason why we came here."
"Really? You and Sans?" Undyne questioned.
"Not in the manner you think, Undyne." Zerrus quickly caught her, looking at Sans and gesturing for him to set her down. Bending down so she could sit on the floor, Zerrus looked up at Alphys and Undyne. She placed her hand where her soul is and willed it forward. When her soul hovered in her hand, she returned her attention back to Alphys. "I need to know something important that involves my soul. Something that only YOU may know." Holding her soul towards Alphys, she watched with careful eyes as the timid yellow monster took it with shakey hands. "Is it possible for me to have a soulmate when I'm already soulbonded?"
"I thought you and Dat were soulmates." Undyne commented.
"They are not." Alphys answered quickly without stuttering. Everyone's attention was drawn to her. "The bond that Dat and Zerrus share is a PACT. They aren't soulmates."
"What does that mean, Alph?" Undyne asked, her eyes darting between Zerrus, her soul, and Alphys.
"It means..." She looked up from under her glasses with that same mischievous grin from before, directed right at Zerrus and Sans. "I need to think of a shipping name."
Her jaw pretty much hit the floor at this information, causing her to turn slowly to face Sans who was sporting a ghostly expression on his face. "are you saying... that zerrus and i?" Sans slowly started.
"Are soulmates?" Zerrus finished, equally shocked and caught entirely off guard as Alphys pressed her soul back into her chest. "How is it that I didn't notice this sooner?"
"Undyne told me, that you and D-Dat don't actually have THOSE k-kinds of feelings towards each other." Alphys began stuttering again, her eyes still locked onto Sans and Zerrus as they stood awkwardly. "Tell me Zerrus, h-have you been feeling s-strange near Sans?"
"Yeah. At first I thought it was just something else entirely. But for it to be this? I don't know how to process this."
"can you give us a moment?" Sans asked, kneeling in front of Zerrus and turning his back towards Alphys and Undyne. The couple stepped out of the room, leaving Sans and Zerrus alone so they could talk. Sighing deeply, Sans summoned his soul. An inverted, white heart hovered in the palm of his hand. He stared at it for a moment, then stared squarely at the center of Zerrus's chest, where her soul rest. Shaking his head, he put his soul back where it belongs. "this isn't good, kid."
"You think I don't know that?" Zerrus responded bitterly, turning to keep her eyes from meeting his. "You know what this means, don't you?"
"you're going to be staying with me and paps for a lot longer than we thought."
"Pardon?" She whipped her head back around so fast she swore she felt her neck crack.
"look kid, i'm gonna level with ya. i thought this timeline was glitched. the fact that you destroyed chara is a major factor of that. that's never happened before. on top of that, you have the most determination out of everyone in the world, giving you ultimate power." Sans began. He shut his eyes and took a deep breath, only to turn his head away from her. "i don't want to let you go."
Zerrus choked on her breath again, her face losing color immediately as his last few words hit her like a truck. "You... d-... wh-?" She only managed to stutter.
"see? that's one of the main reasons i don't want to let you go. you're too cute for your own good." She shrunk up from the compliment. "i don't care about your powers at all, kid. i care about you. i was just too afraid to say anything. afraid that you might push me away."
"Gh-!" Sans latched onto her in a tight hug, her wings pressing a bit uncomfortably against her back.
"i don't want to lose this feeling of safety."
"You feel safe... with me?" Zerrus mumbled, relaxing into the hold as Sans scooped her up. She instinctively koala'd around him again, her thoughts muddled once more. "If anything... I feel safe with YOU. Through all of the pain I've gone through lately, you've been there to help me through it. But I still don't understand... why? Why now?" Shaking her head, she leaned against his shoulder as he teleported them out of Alphys and Undyne's home and back to his. "It doesn't matter now." Looking past his shoulder, she noted that the sun had gone from rising to setting in the time they were gone. "Sunrise... sunset..."
Chapter 10: Flutter
Trying to learn new things and then they learn more.
"KEEP TRYING, ZERRUS." Papyrus encouraged, holding Zerrus out at arm's length. Hanging her head low, she stared at her feet and the drop that could easily break her bones if she connected with the ground. Taking a deep breath and focusing on moving her wings at a fast pace, she felt herself lift ever so slightly from his grip. On cue, he let go of her to let her hover on the spot and watched carefully as she maintained her altitude.
"so far so good, kid. try flying over to me now." Sans spoke, crossing his arms and watching her as she hovered in front of his much taller brother. Glancing at him and shaking slightly, she focused on tilting her body to force her trajectory towards Sans as he stood on the other end of the yard. She tilted a bit too far, sending herself rolling over in mid-air and making herself dizzy, causing her to flutter down to the ground while shaking her head. Landing softly in the grass, she rubbed her temple and groaned inwardly at her own stupidity.
Leaning forward wouldn't necessarily HELP her unless she manipulated her CORE. As Papyrus bent down to scoop her up again, Zerrus scoot backwards from his outstretched hands. "Let me try this one on my own. Okay?" She asked while looking up to his face with pure determination.
"IF YOU THINK YOU CAN DO IT, TRY." Papyrus urged.
Taking another deep breath, her phoenix-patterned wings flapped wildly as they lifted her off the ground. Holding her arms outward slightly to steady herself, she stared forward towards Sans's position. Focusing on her core this time, she leaned forward with her arms still partially outstretched to the sides to maintain balance. Flying unsteadily towards Sans, she watched in awe as she closed the distance between herself and her new soulmate. Her soul began to beat wildly as she approached, her thoughts starting to muddle slightly.
'I still can't believe that I'm soulmated to Sans. Of all the souls in this world... why him?' she thought, breaking her concentration and kareening into Sans at a swift pace. The force from the fall made her headbutt his sternum, eliciting a slight grunt from him and yelp from her.
"thinkin' about somethin'?" Sans smirked, holding her against his chest while holding back his laughter. He knew all too well just what she was thinking. Choosing to remain quiet, Zerrus was surprised to feel him pet the top of her head in an all too familiar manner. "it's alright. you did good."
"Not good enough..." she mumbled. Sinking into the gentle petting, she began to doze off in his arms. Chuckling deeply, Sans tilted his head to get a good look at Zerrus's face as she began to drift to sleep. The way he was petting her head was similar to how her father would when she first fell ill when she was younger. The gentle motions lulled her, relaxing every muscle and blanking her mind to where all she could do is feel the rhythmic motions of his boney hand along her scalp.
"i think we should call it a day, paps. she looks pretty tired." Sans commented to his brother, reaching under her to lift her entirely off the ground which caused her to koala around him.
"YES, SHE DOES SEEM RATHER PEAKED." Papyrus analysed, walking over to the two of them and getting a good look at the dark circles under her big red eyes. Stuffing her face into the fluff of his hoodie, she avoided eye contact with Papyrus. "I'LL MAKE US SOME SPAGHETTI WHILE SHE NAPS."
Walking into the house and flopping on the couch with her still in his arms, Sans positioned her body in a more comfortable manner; her head resting on his sternum and her hand just inches away from her own face. Gently wrapping her up with his hoodie, he continued to pet the top of her head as she drifted into a peaceful sleep. Despite living with them for only a couple of weeks, Sans had quickly learned a few things about her.
For one, Zerrus was a pretty heavy sleeper if she was tired enough. If the dark circles under her eyes were any indication, she'd be asleep until SHE woke up on her own. No amount of shaking or calling her name would wake her. Even the smells of the spaghetti being prepped in the kitchen wouldn't rouse her from sleep. Much like himself, she napped whenever and wherever she felt like it. Unlike him, she's a quiet sleeper. Never snored but occasionally snorts when startled from sleep.
While passively petting the top of her head, he didn't notice her hand gripping his rib gently until the pressure had increased. "that was quick." he mumbled to himself. The gentle grabbing was an indication to him that she was indeed asleep. What almost contradicted his observation was the gentle twitching of her wings, but he quickly learned that she was a twitcher in her sleep when dreaming of something powerful to her psyche.
The first night she spent in Sans's room due to the new bond causing her pain when separated, he learned very quickly that she liked to tuck herself into corners or even sleep sitting up depending on how comfortable she was in the situation. She was very uncomfortable sleeping the same room as a male, she had explained to him. She explained that she was what's considered to be 'asexual'; having no sexual attraction towards anything or anyone, despite yearning for a bond with someone else. The second night was just as awkward as the first after learning this information.
She would constantly stare at him, then blankly stare off at a wall which later ended up having her face explode in a red shade. It took quite a bit of coercing for her to explain that she felt 'strange' after having explained her situation. This led to a heart-to-heart talk about how the bond won't affect how he feels about her, nor her preferences. It took her holding his soul for her to fully understand, even though she consistently claimed that she understood perfectly. According to her, the only thing she didn't understand was why it took him so long to even confess his feelings.
He still doesn't know himself.
Ever since the day they met at Grillby's and she was injured, he's felt something towards her. He just couldn't explain it to himself, much less her. He just hopes that she could understand that. Some part of him knows that she doesn't believe it either, he just doesn't know how to bring it up with her.
While still idly stroking her hair, he didn't even register the presence of 2 versions of him as they entered his home until they crossed his field of vision. "sup, sans?" called out Red as he sat down next to him. His red colored eyelights drifted onto Zerrus's sleeping form against Sans's chest, then up to Sans's white eyelights. "who's the kid?"
"suprised you haven't figured it out yet, red." Sans remarked jokingly as he continued to pet her hair as she snoozed. Lust bent down in front of him to get a better look at her face, only to quirk a browbone at him then looked at Red. "looks like lust figured it out."
"not really. hard to get a good look at her face when she's burying it in your ribcage." Lust responded, surprising Sans and causing his hand to lock up slightly.
"it's zerrus." he answered for them, glancing down to make sure he didn't wake her from pulling her hair.
"no way, man." Red gawked, leaning in to get a closer look at her soul when she whipped around and latched onto him. His eyelights guttered out at the sudden contact and went as stiff as a board as she nuzzled into the fur of his black hoodie. When he glanced back up at the other Sanses, they sported similar expressions of shock at her sleep-induced reaction. "somone wanna wake up little miss cuddles here?"
"good luck with that, red. she doesn't wake up to anything." Sans chuckled as he watched Zerrus cling to Red like a newborn clings to their mother. Red quickly surrendered trying to remove Zerrus's iron-grip on his ribs and sunk into the couch. "to be honest, i'm surprised she did that. she wouldn't touch me for 3 days when she moved in here."
"have you two seriously not figured it out yet?" Lust inquired, kneeling in front of Red to get a much better look at her expression now that she flipped over. He smiled widely as he checked her soul, then checked Sans's. "that explains it perfectly."
"WHAT DOES MR. LUST?" Papyrus spoke from the kitchen doorway, bringing the trio of skeletons attention over to the tall skeleton listening to their conversation.
"she's soulmates with sans here. you know what that means, right?" Lust spoke, stepping up to Papyrus and smiling up at him. "she's soulmates with me and red, too."
"uh oh." Sans coughed out, as he managed to pluck Zerrus from Red's body and she curled back around him. He glanced around at everybody as they all sported expressions of confusion at his outburst. Red was first to disagree with the statement.
"that's not possible, lust. you know that better than any-"
"pull out your soul." Lust instructed as he summoned his own purple-tinted inverted soul.
Red complied nervously, his red-tinted inverted soul hovering just in front of him. As he summoned his soul, Sans summoned his own cyan-tinted soul in his hand. The three souls shared a common mark in the middle of each one; a blue and red smudge. Zerrus roused slowly from her rest at the presence of 3 souls that called out to her own, pulling it free from the confines of her chest and hovered between them. Her eyes slowly blunk open, clearing away the fog as Lust, Red, Papyrus, and Sans stared in shock.
"Mmph..." she grumbled out as she woke up completely. The situation didn't click with her until her soul bumped into Sans's, causing her eyes to shoot open and sending her flying upwards, her wings fluttering wildly. Standing between all 3 Sanses, she glanced around as her mind processed what she was seeing and feeling.
'Insecurity. Fear. Heat. PROTECT.' The words echoed over and over in her head, causing her to scrunch up into an airborne ball and pull at her hair in a feeble attempt to silence to voices screaming at her. Zipping past the group of skeletons at a breakneck pace and towards the backyard, she flew immediately up towards the roof of the house; a place she tended to sneak off to when she wanted to be alone with her thoughts. The groups of skeletons immediately scampered out of the house in pursuit of her, each of them scurrying around the yard trying to find her.
That was when she was yanked into a frighteningly familiar place. A place with nothing but white. When she turned around, she saw a rather irritated looking black skeleton with a deep scowl drawn on his face. Her wings, quick to flutter, brought her off the invisible ground as she whipped around to face Error. "You've got a lot of nerve pulling me back here." She growled out, the magic she had been training bursting to life around her left eye, the target-shaped pupil shining brightly. As she went to summon an attack, she was surprised to find that there were no threads around her and that Error wasn't attempting anything. Sensing something was off, she dismissed her magic. "Something's not right... what are you planning now?"
"nOtHiNg. NoT yEt At AnY rAtE." Error replied, turning his face for a moment. Out of nowhere, a ratty looking couch popped into view before her. "sIt."
"You really think I'm going to listen to your orders after the YEARS of shit you pulled?!" Zerrus snapped, her eye flaring up again only for Error to hold his hand out in a 'stop' motion. Something in her soul was resonating, causing her to calm down enough for her to at least listen to what he wanted to say. Gliding over towards the arm of the couch, she planted herself firmly in place as Error sat down in the middle. "You're being surprisingly... stoic. Especially for someone intent on destroying my universe."
"i CaN't Do ThAt NoW. tHaNkS tO yOu." he replied bitterly.
"Serves you right, dick."
A warbled growl rumbled from Error at the insulting name.
"Care to explain why you brought me here?" she began to interrogate.
"yOuR sOuL. wHaT dId YoU dO wItH iT?"
"I didn't do anything. Besides, what's it matter to you anyways? Not like you gave 2 shits about my well-being before. Why start now?" She huffed, crossing her arms over her chest and scowling at the vast emptiness before her. Her soul buzzed familiarly, yet uncomfortably as Error drew closer to her. He grabbed her face with one hand, roughly, and forced her to look at him. The look he was giving her was enough to tell her that he wanted more information than she was willing to give. Sighing, she brushed his hand away. "Ever heard of soulmates?"
"i'M nOt StUpId, HuMaN." Error snarled.
"No, no. Of course you aren't. You're just a maniacal dickwad that kidnaps someone at their weakest point and manipulates them into being your weapon for 6 years." she shot back, grabbing his arm roughly and slamming it down on the ratty old couch. "But that's not the point... is it? ...Sans."
As she said his true name, he shot forward, grabbing her by the front of her shirt and slamming her into the couch. Looming above her, he bared his glitchy fangs at her in a silent warning. "dOn'T pUsH yOuR luCk...!" Error shouted, pressing her deeper into the couch. Despite the situation she was in, she showed no fear nor any indications of pain. Fluttering her wings rapidly, she somehow managed to pull herself and Error off of the couch and a foot off the ground. "pUt. Me. DoWn."
"You're the one holding onto me." Zerrus spat back, grabbing his hand as example and wrenching it off of her shirt. Error released his grip, Zerrus hovering backwards a bit to distance herself enough from the aggressive and megalomaniacal skeleton that had caused her friends and family so much pain over the years. Despite hating him for what he's done, her soul was sending her mixed signals. She wanted to hug him, tell him everything is fine. That no harm was done, even though she knows that there WAS harm done to not only herself, but to her daughter.
Shaking her head rapidly, she noticed that Error was experiencing the same exact situation as herself. "wHaT dId YoU jUsT dO tO mY sOuL?" he demanded.
"Newsflash, Error. I didn't do ANYTHING consciously. I have no control over what's happening right now."
"lIaR!" Error yelled, bounding towards her as she tore open a portal leading back to her universe. Just as he collided with her, she and Error went flying off the top of the skeleton brothers' home and falling into the dirt. As she and Error wrestled in the dirt, she watched out of the corner of her eye as Sans, Red, and Lust rushed towards her. Sending out some sort of magical pulse from her eye, they stopped their advance as she pinned Error to the ground.
Reaching under his shirt and grabbing his glitched soul, Zerrus held it firmly in her grasp. Her own soul ached at this action, causing her to flinch back for a brief second before returning to what she was trying to do. Holding his now exposed soul in front of him, she glared daggers at him. "Well ain't this a goddamn treat!" She snapped as she examined the fragile soul in her hand. It wasn't the glitching that she saw, but the smudge in the middle of the soul. Shoving it in Error's face, her left eye flared up. "Do you know what this means?!"
"pUt. It. BaCk." Error ordered, shrinking back a bit as she leaned forward with a predatory look etched on to her face.
"ANSWER ME." Zerrus demanded in a manner not too different from the way Sans had spoken to her when they met during Zehanpuryu's reset. The threat she issued had become second nature to her, yet she rarely ever used it since she was such a kind and passive soul. But at this moment, she didn't care if she broke her morals to get the answer she was demanding. Error shrunk into his hood as she called out her partially damaged soul. Resting in the center of her soul was a smudge, similar to the one she was looking at, yet constantly shifting colors.
"sOuL...mAtE..." Error glitched his words, his blown out eyelights shrinking to a pinprick. Shaking his head rapidly, she was surprised when he blipped out of existence and sent her flopping into the dirt at an awkward angle.
Sitting up from her spot in the grass, she watched as time warped around her as the trio of Sanses rushed towards her in a blind panic. Her mind raced with a mixture of thoughts. Thoughts ranging from pure anger at Error, to sympathy, to fear, to an uncomfortable heat that radiated across her body...
To wanting to protect THEM.
When her eyes fell on to each version of Sans, she knew right then and there that there was going to be a huge problem. They won't be able to stop Error thanks to this.
This... is by far the fluffiest thing I had ever written. My stomach was twisting around and actually doing a whole butterflies thing while writing. I had a tough time with it.
Chapter 11: Attack on Ayani High
Everything goes wrong at Ayani High School.
"I'm telling you, I'm fine!" Zerrus insisted as 3 stocky skeletons examined her soul and her body for any broken bones. She had been trying to wiggle the trio off of her for more than 10 minutes and was about to give up when Lust stood up in front of her and narrowed his eyesockets at her. At that moment, the hotflash that had been wracking her body increased tenfold, causing her breathing to become labored as she struggled to not puke. "Well... I certainly don't feel fine NOW." she grumbled through shakey breaths.
Lust glanced up at Sans, then shot a sideways glance towards Red as they all clung to Zerrus like a lifeline. "have you ever heard of heats, zerrus?" Lust inquired, placing his hands on his hips. He watched in amusement as her face went blank and then shifted a deep shade of red as her mind went through what it could possibly mean. Sans chuckled lightly at her flustered nature while Red smirked at her dismay.
"I don't know what you know about humans, Lust, but we don't go into heat like quadrupeds." Zerrus replied bitterly as her face still betrayed her discomfort. She attempted to wiggle away, but every brushing movement against Red and Sans's hoodies caused her body to burn. "B-Besides... this could just be one of my famous hotflashes." Her statement fell on deaf ears as Lust approached her and invaded her personal space, the heat running through her body increasing even more. This caused her to shoot up in an attempt to rush off towards the bathroom, but Lust planted a firm hand on her shoulder and kept her rooted to the couch. "L-Let me go, Lust. I'm about t-to-"
Just as she was about to warn them about her queaziness, she keeled over and began dry-heaving as her vision swam and blurred. In a blind haste, Lust teleported the two of them to the bathroom as Zerrus scurried over to the toilet. Leaning over it and continuing to dry-heave, she gasped and sputtered as it felt like her very stomach was on fire. It was several minutes of just leaning over the toilet bowl that she ended up forgetting how she got there and who was in the room with her. Her mind had completely blanked itself, leaving only her body's natural responses to make her stand up and hover towards the sink to splash cold water on her face. As the cold water hit her face, her breathing slowly returned to normal and her consciousness finally returned as she stepped away from Lust's still position in the bathroom.
When she came to, she looked around the house and noticed that she wasn't in the livingroom anymore. When she turned around and saw Lust, she turned her back towards him almost spitefully. When he took a single step towards her, she reeled around with her blade conjured and aimed right at his face. "What part of 'stay out of my personal space' didn't you get?" Zerrus growled out, her left eye sparking to life and her teeth bared at him. "I TOLD you that I'm not comfortable around you!"
"yer gonna have to fix that, doll." Red commented from downstairs, pulling her attention away from Lust for only a moment as his statement processed in her mind. "if yer soulmated to every version of us, you might as well start... heheh... 'bonding' with lust."
Her rage turned immediately towards Red, flying over the banister and hovering in front of him, the grip on her sword white-knuckled. "Like. HELL I'm gonna do that."
"i don't think we have a choice, kid." Sans remarked as he stepped over to Zerrus, her soul calming slightly at his presence as opposed to being close to Red. "your soul reacts to us in different ways. you seem pretty relaxed when around me. but when you're around red, you seem on edge. almost brash with your decisions and violent about anything that offends you even the slightest." His eyelights panned up to Lust, locking on to him. "and it seems that being near lust, it's sending you into a psuedo-heat of some sort."
"You know that's a problem, Sans." Zerrus bluntly spoke, dismissing her magic and turning to face him, her face showing clear irritation. As she was about to speak again, there was a knock at the door which stole her attention. Flying over and opening it, there stood a royal courier, out of breath and terrified.
"Is- Is this the residence where Rainbow Wind is residing?" he gasped out, holding his side as he took shakey breaths.
"Yes. Please, come inside and try to breathe." Zerrus answered while ushering him inside quickly. As the courier sat down on the couch, Red and Lust stared at the courier with concern. "What seems to be the problem?"
"They have returned." he bluntly answered, handing Zerrus a letter with a royal postmark. Opening the sealed envelope, she skimmed the contents.
If you are reading this, then it may already be too late.
The Gloam has invaded the Sacred Grove once more, but we cannot seem to locate their exact position. All that we can ascertain is that they are close. I write this letter to you in hopes that you find a solution with your monster friends in pushing back this threat. We have reason to believe that the Gloam will focus on the smallest contingency of Gleam.
If you have any information on Gleam residents, please instruct them to evacuate to a safe location until this matter is resolved.
Setting the letter down and her eyes shooting upwards towards the ceiling, Zerrus took a few shakey breaths. She glanced over at the clock.
"FUCK!" Zerrus shouted, shooting up off her feet and towards the nearest phone and quickly dialing. The phone rang a few times until a whispered voice answered. "Cherry! You, Yonk and Faliko need to evacuate the school! NOW!" Hanging up the phone hastily and rushing towards the courier she grabbed the front of his tabard. "How many guards are near Ayani High?"
"N-Not sure, ma'am." he answered timidly.
"I need you to hurry and get a contingency of guards to Ayani High! The Eternal Guardians there won't be strong enough to fend off whatever Gloam is going to attack the school!" Zerrus explained in a frantic voice. She turned to face the trio of Sanses. "Sans, I need you to assist in the evacuation! Red, assist in pushing back the Gloam! Lust, you're coming with me!" Grabbing his arm and quickly taking her own shortcut to the school, she watched with unsteady eyes as a large, sickly purple creature towered over the partial wreckage of the school building that was the east block of Ayani High School.
Zerrus roared in anger, her magic flaring up with her rage and englufing her in a rainbow of flames. Spiraling down her arms and legs, the flames wrapped around her limbs and burned off her clothing while replacing it with her battle armor. A tiara-like headband rest upon her head, her eyes burning with an unbridled rage and her breathing uneven. She turned towards Lust, his eyes blank for a moment before he stepped forward. "any orders, rainbow wind?" he spoke.
"Diversion." Zerrus's voice warbled with magic. "Distract the Creature. Give me a weakness."
"got it." Lust responded, blinking away and towards the Gloam Creature that was currently attacking the school. The ground shook from under her, throwing her hovering slightly off balance. The Creature turned and faced Lust, roaring loudly at him and attempting to grab the small purple skeleton. Just as its hand was closing the distance, Lust blinked out of the attack and on to its arm. While the Creature was preoccupied in trying to grab the skeleton, Zerrus analyzed its body for any notable weakspot. She heard a distinct shout coming from the area of the wreckage, and out came a flash of red light. Smirking slightly, Zerrus knew immediately who it was and commended their bravery yet also chastised their wrecklessness.
'Tis the fate of a Guardian, she supposed.
The Creature's attention was now drawn to the red light that was dancing around its feet, binding it with magical chains. The Creature bent down to smash the light with its hand when a green light rushed outward, a bubble bursting forth and knocking it backwards. That's when a purple light shot out from the wreckage and into the air, lightning dancing around it. A series of lightning bolts crashed directly on to the Creature, its roar piercing the air and shattering glass around the campus buildings.
Clamping her hands around her ears, she didn't even notice the large shadow looming overhead. When she reopened her eyes and spotted the shadow, she quickly dashed out of the way while summoning a wave of chains to act as a shield for her escape. As her chains shattered one by one, she brought up her sword in to a parry, completely unaware that what she was about to attempt to parry was a second Gloam Creature. When it wrapped its large stoney hand around her, she quickly glanced behind her to see that the first Gloam Creature was actually still alive and standing now.
As the Creature that held her began to close its grip around her frail body, Zerrus cried out a blood curdling scream as her wings crunched inwards. A white-hot beam of magic with glitchy edges shot by her cheek, marring its arm and dropping her promptly to the ground. Turning over in the air and changing her trajectory, Zerrus was surprised to find a black skeleton standing there with waiting arms. Rolling backwards, fluttering her wings and kicking back with the air, she pounced on top of a nearby stone. "Dammit! Now's not a good time to be fighting him!" Zerrus snarled to herself as she passed a glare towards Error. He shook his head as if he had heard her statement, then pointed towards the creature with his thumb. "A-Are you offering to fight this thing?!" she called out to him.
"i WoUlDn'T bE hErE oThErWiSe, PeT." Error blankly replied, summoning an array of bones that hovered behind him like an army. "cAn'T hAvE yOu DiE."
"Appreciate the assist then, man!" Zerrus charged forward, her sword resummoned and her wings flapping wildly to accelerate her charge. She then summoned a wave of chains aimed for its legs, which was swiftly blocked by a downward swing by its massive arm.
Dashing backwards, she switched her form of attack from close combat to ranged, shouldering her magically summoned rifle and aiming at the Creature's right shoulder. Taking a quick popshot at its shoulder, Zerrus smirked when it roared in pain while also wincing from the reverberations of the intensity the roar produced. Shaking her head quickly to ignore the ringing in her ears, she was shocked to see that Error was now staggering from the loud sound the Creature had emitted. When the Gloam Construct went to crush Error with it's foot, Zerrus charged forward at a blinding speed. She grabbed on to Error in what seemd like a hug as she lifted him off the ground from his staggering position, then she flew him off towards the nearby building.
Once she sat him down, she turned to face the direction she had come from. "wHy DiD yOu Do ThAt?" Error mumbled. Zerrus turned her head to look at him, his face was blank, almost as if he was confused.
Cherry, Yonk and Faliko were busy battling against the random stone creature that had appeared on the school grounds. Cherry lept into the air with her scythe just behind her, the blade tucked gingerly against her body as she spun end over end. She then brought the blade of the scythe down on top of the Construct's head, chipping away bits and pieces of discolored purple stone. As the stone broke away, a strange purple light shone through the cracks. As she was looking at this new discovery, Cherry spotted a giant stone hand coming right for her.
Bouncing away, the Construct smacked the top of its own head in an attempt to crush Cherry. Landing gracefully on the ground, Cherry whistled to the rest of the team. Yonk hovered down to her via device, Faliko kept her shield raised towards the Construct to keep any incoming attacks from hurting them. "Nothing seems to be working." Cherry pointed out, narrowing her eyes at the creature as it slammed its foot against the green bubble Faiko had erected. The ground shook under them, jarring them slightly, yet the shield held. "We need to get this thing away from the school. Any ideas?"
"sans should be evacuating the building right now. there shouldn't be any casualties." Lust informed, kneeling while attempting to catch his breath from his initial charge on the giant stone beast. "zerrus should be trying to find a weakness as we speak."
"I don't think that's going to happen any time soon, Lust." Yonk stammered, taking a few steps backwards as the second Gloam Construct approached their position. His eyes widened as the second stone giant slammed its foot on top of the bubble, the shield cracking under its weight. Faliko glanced up at the damage to her magic and an idea clicked in her head.
"Yonky, can you fire a ball of lightning over there?" Faliko called out, pointing towards the open field of the school campus while still holding her shield.
Yonk was about to question it when another foot crashed on the shield, a crashing sound echoing around them from the bubble breaking slightly. Concentrating his magic into a condensed energy ball, he shot the ball towards the clearing. The Constructs turned towards the source of light for a moment before the lightning struck an object and dissipated.
"They're attracted to light." Cherry mused as their attention was drawn back to the glowing ball of green light that is Faliko's shield. Dashing away from the group with the bubble still up, Faliko pulled the attention of the Constructs away from the school building. "Faliko!"
"Let her go." stopped a voice from behind Cherry. She turned her head to peek over her shoulder and spotted Dr. Gaster. "Have faith in your fellow Guardian, Ms. Teknianu."
Faliko was by far the slowest of the Guardians when it came to speed, but she made up for her speed with defense and healing. Her slow movement was just fast enough to be out of reach of the Constructs while also dragging them along like a cat and a laser pointer. As the giant creatures stumbled after her, she took her time in analyzing their movement pattern while also scouting for an area she could hunker down. Her eyes landed on a nearby rockwall that gave the school a natural landscape; nestled against the rockwall was a cave. Charging towards the cave, Faliko was caught off guard when one of the creatures kicked the ball of green light, sending her flying towards the rockwall at an alarming speed.
Holding the shield bubble steady, she rolled around like a hamster in a ball as she sped towards the wall in the air. When the magic collided with the natural surface, the shield pulsated a brilliant green shade, then cracked. As the ball of magic rolled down the rockwall, Faliko struggled valiantly to keep her magic held. The sight of the Gloam Constructs approaching her was enough for her to lower her shield long enough for her to slip in to one of the nearby caves. Once inside the cave, she resummoned the shield, although it was considerably smaller than before and just allowed her to nudge herself snuggly into the spanse of the narrow cave. She watched with wide eyes as one of the Constructs bent down and tried to pull the ball out from the wedged position.
Knowing that her plan had suceeded, she now had to think of a way to destroy these creatures.
"What do you mean?" Zerrus asked, still facing towards the direction of the schoolyard where the Gloam Construct was currently wrecking havoc.
"wHy DiD yOu SaVe Me?" Error mumbled, his eyes blank as his mind tried to wrap around her reasoning. "I'vE hUrT yOu MoRe TiMeS tHaN i CaN cOuNt, AnD i'M sUrE yOu ReMeMbEr EaCh OnE bEtTeR tHaN mE." He looked up at her, his eyelights back in his eyesockets. "sO, wHy?"
"I believe that everyone can change, even if it's only slightly. It's only a matter of finding the root of the problem and helping them through it." Zerrus explained rather bluntly, her eyes still locked on to the Construct. "There was only one person I met in my life that I couldn't help, and it still haunts me to this day." She brought her hand up to the left side of her face, gently running her fingers over the bridge of her nose and under her left eye. "There's nothing I can do for them now, but if I can continue to make a difference for others, then I'm taking that chance." She turned and faced Error, her rifle hanging low in her hands. "Even for you."
"I sTiLl DoN't UnDeRsTaNd."
"Hm. Maybe... in time, you will." Zerrus heard movement coming from down the hallway she and Error were hunkering down in. Shouldering her rifle immediately and looking through the scope, she narrowed her eyes, the reticle in her left eye flashing. Through her scope, she spotted a familiar silhouette and lowered her rifle. "About time you showed up!" she called out to them. Her eyes widened when the figure twitched slightly, an eerie red glow stretching to form a smile with equally disturbing glowing red eyes. "Fuck-!"
Zerrus grabbed Error by his jacket, tugging him out of the way just as the shadowy figure lunged forward at them with knife in tow. Slashing at her with pure hatred, Zerrus snarled as she went to punt back the assailant's arm with the butt of her rifle. The figure bounced back only slightly to avoid contact, smiling devilishly at her. Their glowing eyes panned over to Error as he huddled in a pile of rubble, unsure of how to proceed, then panned back over to Zerrus. Their smile stretched further.
Making a mad dash towards Error with knife outstretched, Zerrus quickly jumped in the way of the attack, switching her magic from ranged to close combat. Moving to block the knife attack with a parry, her magic hadn't fully materialized, the knife phasing through and slicing the underside of her left arm. Wincing loudly and shouldering the shadowed figure away, Zerrus backed herself and Error into a corner, her blood dripping steadily onto the ground. Something primal surged in her, a rage that shouldn't have burned upon seeing the sight of her own blood. Glaring up at the figure, she bared her teeth. "How?! I thought you were destroyed?!" Zerrus shouted, clenching her fist tightly around her sword.
"You really don't get it, do you?" they chuckled darkly, reaching up to remove the head covering they were wearing. Long, flowing blue hair fell down past their knees, their eyes still burning with hatred. "You can't kill yourself without intent!" She shouted, holding her knife arm high above her head and bringing it down towards Zerrus threateningly. A black bone pierced through their arm, sending them flying to the opposite end of the room and sticking them to the wall.
"DoN't EvEn BoThEr StRuGgLiNg." Error snarled, stepping up behind Zerrus. Her soul pulsed and resonated with his own, her emotions almost being overshadowed by his own.
But there was something else in there... something she could sense deep down inside his very soul...
Shaking her thoughts away, she focused instead on the current threat standing before her; a threat she thought she had destroyed years ago. Stepping forward, she intensified the magic in her blade, the magic lighting the hall. As she brought the blade towards the assailant, Zerrus paused. The doppleganger chuckled above her. "What's the matter? Can't bring it in you to kill?"
"I'm... NOTHING... like... you...!" Zerrus struggled, her will cracking under the pressure of Error's soul influence. Her voice began to glitch, her body engulfing in a rainbow wind and circling her. "I will NEVER... be like you!"
"Since when were you the one in control?" They teased back.
Zerrus's mind blanked out with a roar.
From the distance, Cherry heard the distinct sound of her mother screaming out. "Mom?!" she questioned for a second. She turned to face Lust and Red, who had just joined in their battle to bring down the Gloam Constructs that were attacking the school. "I'm going."
"Go! We'll do what we can from here!" Yonk yelled, pushing Cherry towards the direction Zerrus's pained shout came from. She sprinted forward, aided by her Guardian Blood, she closed the distance in a matter of seconds compared to the minutes it would have normally taken. When she went to push open the door, she found it to be locked. Wasting no time, she took her scythe and smashed down the door, charging down the hallway. She sensed a magical wind in the area, causing her to stop her charge for a moment to assess the situation.
As she had learned from Dr. Gaster's class, magic and emotions can mix into a deadly cocktail or even a beneficial one. Based on the energy Cherry was picking up, this energy was lethal, indicating that whatever was fueling this magic was pure rage with no conscious decision. Squinting her eyes and focusing on the location of the energy, she charged forward once more. She stopped short when she saw her mother bearing down upon a small child. "Mom!" Cherry shouted in an attempt to snap Zerrus out of her trance.
She rushed towards the scene, completely unaware that the child that stood before Zerrus was armed. Zerrus's focused eyes snapped up to Cherry for a moment, only to have the child drive the knife into the thin material of her wing and drag it down agonizingly slow. Screaming out in pain, Zerrus's left eye burst in flames and her soul sent out a distress pulse. At that exact moment, Sans teleported to her side and grabbed her from her slow descent back to the ground. Blinking backwards from another swipe from the knife, Sans landed right next to a very agitated Error.
"Wh-" Cherry began, only to see the child lick her mother's blood off of the blade and smile wickedly. "Who... Who do you think you ARE?!" Cherry brought her scythe towards her side, at a ready position.
Chapter 12: Truth Seeker
Ayani High School will never be the same again and a new chapter in Zerrus's life is about to begin.
Just as the child had addressed themselves, they vanished before their very eyes, leaving Zerrus bleeding from her injured wing and Sans glaring at the spot with rage. Error stepped forward, each step leaving a glitched scuff mark behind. When he bent down to inspect the area the child had disappeared from, he turned his attention back to Zerrus in a heartbeat. "dO yOu KnOw WhO rEsUrZ iS?" he inquired.
"No." Zerrus gasped out, watching with shakey eyes as Sans gently brushed his fingers along the fresh wound. Cherry stepped forward, kneeling before her mother and frowning deeply. Just as Cherry was about to say something, Zerrus held up her hand. "Don't worry, Cherry. I could sense that you thought that I was about to strike the child down for no reason. It's understandable given my previous history." Looking away from Cherry, Zerrus looked back up at Sans only to see his eyelights shaking. "You alright there?"
"how can you be so calm?" he almost whimpered, dragging Zerrus against his chest and compressing her. "i thought i was gonna lose you!"
"J-Jesus to HELL, boneboy! Don't squeeze me like a damn bodypillow!" Zerrus groaned, struggling to break free from the hug. When he eased his grip, Zerrus stared forward. The ground shook under them, causing them to turn towards the source. "The Constructs!"
"Leave them to me. Sans, get mom somewhere safe!" Cherry spoke, dashing past them while also grabbing Error by his jacket. "You're coming with me!"
As Cherry drug Error through the hallway and out the front door, she was caught off guard as a giant ball of green light came barreling towards them. Summoning her scythe and swining upwards, she shot out a wave of chains that latched onto the ball, stopping it in its tracks. The chains slowly lowered the ball to the ground, dropping a rather dazed Faliko to the ground. "Thanks, Cherryboo." she gurgled, rubbing her head. "The Constructs got bored with me it seems..."
Just as Cherry was about to respond, a group of royal soldiers bounded towards them. "What are you children doing out here?! Get inside where it's safe!" Ordered one of the soliders, their hands gripping the handle of their battleax like a lifeline.
"With all due respect sir, we cannot abide by that order." Cherry remarked. Pulling Faliko to her feet, she smirked. "We are the Eternal Guardians. It is our duty to protect the innocent."
"I understand that ma'am, but Rainbow Wind had ordered for your safe extraction. She'll take over from here."
"Really? Maybe you should go inside and see her condition for yourselves." The solider was about to rebute her statement when she gripped her scythe tighter. "Sir, we stand a better chance if we combine our current forces instead of separating."
"bEsT nOt To ArGuE wItH hEr." Error warned. The Guardsman recoiled for a moment upon seeing Error, then turned to face his troops. "We MeAn ThE bEsT fOr ThE sAfEtY oF tHe StUdeNtS. iF yOu WaNt To PuT uP a FiGhT..."
"That won't be necessary, Error." Cherry barked. She brought her attention to the troops that were sizing up the Constructs that approached them. "The creatures are attracted to light. They seem to feel pain when the rocks are chipped away to reveal their cores. My guess is that we should focus on the core."
Yonk came flying through, landing next to Cherry and kneeling down to catch his breath. "Damn things... don't take a hint..." he struggled.
"You did good, kid." complimented the soldier. "MEN! Form an attack squadron! Footsoldiers will file in and chip away at the Constructs' natural shells until their magic cores are exposed! Marksmen will follow up with an arrow volley once the cores are exposed!" The different groups immediately filed in line; warriors and brawlers up front and archers and wizards following the rear. Cherry noticed that there were a surprising amount of pixies than there were humans. "What will you do?"
"cherry here can restrict their movement for a short period of time. faliko was serving as our medic, but quickly became a hamster ball when she distracted them." red started.
"Thanks..." Faliko mumbled.
"yonk's been doing his best to chip away at the stone, but it seems electrical attacks only seem to fuel the creatures' rage."
"What about you?" the Guardsman inquired.
"lust and i have been using our shortcuts to bring the kids out of immediate danger as best as we could. so far, these kids haven't even suffered a scratch."
"Speak for yourself!" Faliko shouted, standing up and brushing off the bits and pieces of rubble from her robes. "These creatures like to follow any source of light. I'd prefer not to have to be thrown around again, so what's your plan?"
Meanwhile, Sans was focusing on bringing Zerrus to the nurses office. While he carried her, she stared back at the hallway. "kid, there's no mistaking it... that was them." he muttered.
"It seems that way, but something's off." Zerrus responded, her fist clenching against his hoodie. "They said the name 'Resurz' like I'm supposed to know it. But their soul clearly reflected to me that they were, without a doubt, Chara." She began calculating. "But this is impossible since Zehanpuryu used that last of her energy to destroy Chara all together. But that's not what worries me."
"They look like me, Sans." Zerrus shuddered. "This is hard to explain... but when I went to Underswap 6 years ago, Paps called me 'Frisk', but there was a venomous undertone with the way he said it. Maybe... maybe Resurz IS Chara, but from another universe?"
"i pray that's not the case..." Sans whispered, kicking open the door to the nurses office and startling a group of students. "hey kids. my friend here needs some medical treatment. it doesn't need to be top notch, just enough to stop the bleeding."
"Of course, Mr. Snowdin!" replied one of the male students as he rushed towards the back room.
A small female student with blonde hair approached them, looking at her wing and cautiously reaching towards it. When a second male student tried to pry Zerrus away from Sans, she just gripped tighter. "Heheh... I don't think so..." Zerrus chuckled nervously. She did her best to extend her wing out towards the students. "I'm not leaving this spot. Just... just examine my wing. That's the injury site."
As the students poked and prodded at her damaged wing, she overheard one of them remark quietly to themselves. "Phoenix... Thicker tissue... She's not a pixie..."
Zerrus turned her head slowly, looking at the student with inquisitive eyes. "Guess it stands out, huh?" she whispered down to them. When the student's gaze shot up to her, Zerrus grinned. "It's a long story."
After what felt like hours to her, Zerrus's wing was wrapped and the injury site was disinfected. She turned and looked over her shoulder to inspect her wing to the best of her abilities, but only managed to pop her neck while doing so. The teacher of the class stepped up to Sans and Zerrus, kneeling to be face-to-face with her. "Who are you?" He asked.
"My name is Zerrus Teknianu. I am an Eternal Guardian and the mother of Cheritana." Zerrus answered. "But I guess what you really want to know is why the school is under attack?"
"We all want to know." he muttered.
"I wish I had all the answers regarding that, sir. But unfortunately, I don't. The only thing I can surmise is that one of the children here managed to call forth the ancient Gloam Constructs."
"I thought the Gloam were-"
"Gone? No. No, the Gloam will never be gone." Zerrus managed to slide off the bed, standing on wobbly legs and testing the waters. "So long as there are members of the Gleam alive in this world, the Gloam will NEVER be rid of. The attack on the school is proof that a member of the Gloam is or WAS here. The reason for attacking must be pretty simplistic."
"I don't understand... Mr. Snowdin? Do you understand any of this person's ramblings?" The teacher asked, completely disregarding Zerrus's intuition and analysis of the situation.
"Wow... that's rude..." Zerrus mumbled.
"it's hard to understand myself, but we can't ignore the facts in front of us. as zerrus's soulmate, i believe her theory." Sans defended. "a student attacked her in the hallway, which is why her wing was almost cut in half, mr. farin."
"She's your-? Oh my God, sorry about that." Mr. Farin quickly apologized. Zerrus could easily sense the fear in his soul and chalked it up to his knowledge of how a monster reacts when their soulmate is insulted. "I-I didn't mean any disrespect! I-It's just... why?"
Shaking her head, she stepped away from the bed. "I don't know... I think... maybe... Maybe they were trying to draw me OUT?"
"But why? Why would they want to draw YOU out here? Why endanger the entire school just to get you?"
"It's probably because Cherry is here. They knew I would immediately jump to her defense and do what I can to protect her, as well as the school." Zerrus paced uneasily, back and forth, through the room. "They must have known that I would do ANYTHING and EVERYTHING in my power to protect everybody here. So they used it as bait to draw me here and attack me directly."
"i think we should call cahtke." Sans whispered to her ear. She glanced up at him. "if anyone will be able to send you to where resurz is, it'll be her."
"Good point..." Zerrus agreed, silently. When the rumbling of the ground stopped, everyone froze and hastily looked around the room. "I think they got them."
"A-Are you sure?!" Mr. Farin stuttered.
"Well, if anything the vibrations have stopped. So I think it's okay." Zerrus tromped towards the door, shoving it open with some difficulty due to her small size, and dashed through the hallway to a nearby window. When she looked out, both of the stone creatures were on the ground and slowly losing their form. "Looks like they did it."
"Mrs. Teknianu!" Yonk shouted, running over to her with Cherry, Faliko, and the other Sanses following behind. "The Royal Guard came by and helped us with the defense. The Constructs are no more."
"That's good. But we have another problem." Zerrus remarked.
"jesus, doll. what the hell happened to ya?" Red commented, circling around her to inspect her damaged wing.
"It's fine. Just... I need to contact an old friend of mine. There's another demon."
Everyone stood silent.
"cahtke said to meet her at the workshop." Sans spoke, lowering his phone from the side of his skull and pocketing it.
"Alright then... Cherry, you and the rest of the group should stay here and run damage control on the students. Lust, I think it will be best if you stay with them for the time be-"
"You aren't leaving us again, mom." Cherry flat-out ordered. Zerrus shook slightly from the abrupt order from her own child. "We already lost you once. I'm not going to lose you again."
"I know how you feel, Cherry... but this isn't-"
Huffing defiantly, Zerrus teleported immediately to her workshop, leaving the children at the school and her soul shaking in her chest. The shaking subsided when Sans teleported behind her. "why'd you do that?" he muttered to her.
"Cherry's too young to understand." Zerrus responded. Sitting in the corner was a pixie woman with green hair. "Long time no see, Cahtke."
"You wouldn't have called me if it wasn't important, Zerrus." Cahtke replied, her fuschia wings fluttering slightly against her back. "What seems to be the problem?"
"I need to know the truth. It's been 6 years and you have the only answers." Zerrus quickly barked, stepping up to Cahtke and coming face-to-face with the fellow pixie. "Resurz."
Cahtke's eyes flashed in recognition for a moment before fading to a dark fog. "I haven't heard that name in decades... if you know that name..."
"She's back?" Zerrus finished for her.
"Yes. Mr. Sans? Are you willing to let me activate her?"
"activate?" Sans spoke.
"Resurz functions by attacking the memories and personality of their target. If Zerrus plans on going after Resurz, she will need to be activated."
"i still don't-"
"Zerrus is one of the many pet projects our organization had been working on. The event in Seaside was no accident." Cahtke's eyes panned over to Zerrus. "If you want to know the truth... you need to consent to this process."
"Fine. Whatever it takes to save the Grove." Zerrus quickly consented.
"Very well..." Cahtke stood, placing her hand on Zerrus's right ear, gently, and pressed her forehead to hers. "549781."
Zerrus's eyes fell dark and her body went limp, crashing to the ground almost immediately. "what the hell did you just do?!" Sans shouted, rushing over to Zerrus and pulling her head off the floor and into his lap.
"Just as she asked. She has been activated." Cahtke answered. "She won't remember anything about herself. Not even her own name. All emotions will be null and her training as her class will show forth. Despite the handicap, she will be able to remember everything that has happened when she is deactivated with her secondary code." Sitting up, Cahtke strode over to the workbench and pulled out a clear bag and a pair of black boots and a matching pair of gloves. "Can you dress her in these garments?"
Sans chuckled nervously, looking down at Zerrus's unconscious form. "i might be soulmates with her, but she'd kick my ass if she-"
"She won't know."
Cahtke pushed the clothing closer to Sans. Sighing in defeat, he began to disrobe her. Strange tan markings dotted her shoulders and snaked down her chest, disappearing around her navel area. Shaking his head and ignoring his position, he grabbed the black leather, haltertop-like shirt with metallic shoulder plates and carefully slid it over her head. Grabbing the baggy cargo pants, he slipped them on quickly after removing her black leggings. He then tied the boots snuggly and slipped the gloves over her small hands. Just as he was about to stand up, he noticed that her wing pattern had shifted from the vibrant red hues to a smokey grey. The form of her wings also began to change. No longer were they butterfly-like, but now angellic yet still paperthin. At the end of the feathery material were splotches of pink.
"This is her true form, Mr. Sans." Cahtke spoke, jarring Sans from his mental inventory. "The wings signify her painful life."
"she shouldn't have to live like this..." Sans muttered.
"I understand your sympathy, but it has already happened." Cahtke stepped over to the Universal Transportation Device (UTD), and input a new code. "She must go alone."
Nodding slowly and picking her small body up, Sans carried Zerrus's unconscious form over to the pod and set her down gently. "do you think she'll be okay?"
Cahtke remained silent, only pressing the button to send Zerrus to the unmarked universe as her answer. "We will know when she returns."
Chapter 13: Awaken, Little Soldier
Who is she? What is her mission?
Darkness. That was all the young soldier could see. Slowly opening her eyes, she turned her head partially to the right. 'Gold.' she thought as she spotted the patch of golden flowers she was lying on. When she moved to sit up, her muscles protested the movement and forced her to lie back down. She managed to move her right arm upwards, holding it high for only a few seconds before it fell back to her chest. She could feel something. Something unknown to her.
'Mission: Unknown. Location...' she began to take mental inventory. She looked around the area from her position. 'Cavern? Sanctuary? Merry Vale?' Her eyes panned back down to the golden flowers she was lying on. 'Negative. Area unknown.' She stared upwards, a gentle beam of sunlight shining down on her body. 'Blackspore, Briarwood. Negative.' She lay still, feeling the temperature from the cavern walls seep into her body. 'Temperature: Moderate. Wugachug, Snowhill, Sunstone Valley: Negative.' Her eyes fell back on to the flowers once more. 'Merry Vale, Sanctuary, Shrouded Glade, Lakeshore, Seaside: Probable.' Closing her eyes, she listened deeply.
Birds were singing and the sounds of water were nowhere to be heard.
'Lakeshore, Seaside: Negative.' Rolling over and pushing herself to her knees, she inspected her body. The worse kind of damage she could see on her body was a few scrapes, but nothing serious. Poking and prodding at her arms and legs, she felt very little pain. 'Injury Status: Minimal.' Attempting to flutter her wings, she met resistance. Her left wing burned immensely when she tried to move it. 'Flight: Inadvisable.' Standing straight, she took inventory of what she had.
In her possession she had only a journal. Opening the journal, she wasn't surprised when the pages were blank. Shutting the book, she flipped it over to the back cover and saw something printed onto the lower corner.
Cocking her head slightly, she put the journal back into her inventory and took a few unsteady steps forward. She stilled when a single golden flower stood in a column of light. "Howdy!" it called out. "I'm Flowey! Flowey the Flower!"
"..." E-417 took mental inventory of the strange flower that was speaking to her. A small marking was engraved just above their 'forehead', but other than that the flower seemed as normal as it could be.
"You're new to the Underground, aren'tcha? Golly! You must be so confused! Someone ought to teach you how things work around here! I guess little old me will have to do." Flowey continued. "Ready? Here we go!"
A faded heart popped out from E-417's chest, the hue undetermined. Sensing something was amiss, she stared cautiously at the small flower.
"See that heart? That is your SOUL, the very culmination of your being!" They began to instruct. "Your SOUL starts off weak, but can grow strong if you gain a lot of LV."
She tilted her head slightly.
"What's LV stand for? Why, LOVE, of course!" Something was really off when the word LOVE connected to E-417. "You want some LOVE, don't you?"
"Don't worry! I'll share some with you!" Flowey winked at her. A series of white pellets flew out from behind Flowey, E-417's instincts were screaming at her to not trust them. "Down here, LOVE is shared through... little white... 'friendliness pellets.'" The pellets began to approach her soul. "Run around! Get as many as you can!"
Not trusting the pellets, E-417 stepped aside.
Flowey's grin almost soured. "Hey buddy, you missed them."
"Threat." E-417 spoke monotonously.
Sweat began to dot the flower's features. "Let's try again!" Another wave of pellets shot forward, much faster than the previous. Sidestepping once more, E-417 narrowed her eyes. Flowey's grin shifted maniacally. "You know what's going on here, don't you? You just wanted to see me suffer." A ring of pellets surrounded E-417 entirely, causing her to glance over her shoulder for a brief second and scan around for a way out.
Sadly, there was no way out of this situation.
"DIE." Flowey cackled. The ring of pellets slowly began to enclose on her, forcing her to crouch down further and further as they drew near. Her eyes focused on Flowey, she glared heatedly when the pellets suddenly vanished. A random fireball shot out, knocking Flowey away and sending E-417's soul back into her chest.
A sweet looking, white furred, goat-like creature stepped forward; an elegant purple robe draped around their form with an unusual gem embedded and a symbol engraved onto the stone. "What a terrible creature, torturing such a poor, innocent youth..." she commented to herself more than to E-417. Her soft brown eyes fell on to her almost prone form on the ground. Standing straight, E-417 began to analyze the new creature before her. "Ah, do not be afraid, my child. I am Toriel, caretaker of the Ruins."
"Ruins?" E-417 mentally collected aloud.
"I pass through this place everyday to see if anyone has fallen down." Toriel explained, stepping up to E-417 and placing a gentle paw on her small shoulder. "You are the first human to come here in a long time."
E-417 almost corrected the comment of 'human', but instead chose to remain silent.
"Come! I will guide you through the catacombs." The soft fur of Toriel's paw completely enveloped E-417's tiny hand, dragging her along through the Ruins.
When they arrived at a small home after a long journey through the Ruins, E-417 slowly catalogued everything she had learned thus far. 'Flowey: Hostile. Toriel: Non-Hostile, Trustworthy. Location: Underground? Questionable.' When she set foot in the house, a sweet smell wafted to her nose. "Sweet." E-417 commented.
"Oh, so you smell that? I made a butterscotch-cinnamon pie. I normally would have baked a snail pie, but today I felt like making something different." Toriel smiled softly down at E-417. "I want you to have a nice time living here." She frowned at the thought, knowing that deep down, she should progress further in search of her mission. Her supervisor wouldn't have placed her here if there wasn't a purpose. "Here, I have a surprise for you." Grabbing her hand once more, Toriel led E-417 down a hallway and stopped in front of the first room on the left. "A room of your own. I hope you like it!"
Toriel placed her paw on top of her head, ruffling her short, blue hair. Toriel padded off towards the living room, E-417 leisurely following behind until she spotted a bookcase. A history book stood out to her. Grabbing it, she turned to a random page.
'Trapped behind the barrier and fearful of further human attacks, we retreated. Far, far into the earth we walked, until we reached the cavern's end. This was our new home, which we named... "Home." As great as our king is, he is pretty lousy at names.'
Putting the book down, E-417 reached into her pocket and grabbed her journal.
'UNDERGROUND - Location Unknown'
''Monster' race reside beneath the earth'
Putting her notes away, she glanced back over to Toriel, who was sitting in a brown recliner and reading a book. When she saw E-417 over her glasses, she smiled. "Um, I want you to know how glad I am to have someone here. There are so many old books I want to share. I want to show you my favorite bug-hunting spot. I've also prepared a curriculum for your education."
"Adult." E-417 quickly corrected.
"Oh. I'm sorry, my child, I mistook you for an actual child. I didn't know. Still, I am glad to have you living here." She stopped her ramblings when her red eyes bore into her brown ones. "Oh, did you want something? What is it?"
"Departure?" E-417 gestured towards the downstairs area she had spotted when she first entered the house.
"What? You... You want to leave?" Toriel paused for a second. "Um... would you like to hear about this book I am reading? It is called '72 Uses for Snails.' How about it?" E-417 hesitated, then nodded to amuse the motherly goat. "Here is an exciting snail fact. Did you know that snails... Have a chainsaw-like tongue called a radula?" She froze for a second, taking in this new tidbit of information, then shuddered slightly. "Interesting."
"Exit Ruins?" E-417 inquired.
"... I have to do something. Stay here." Toriel closed her book and seemingly sprinted past E-417 and towards the downstairs area. Sensing that Toriel was hiding something, she chased after her. "You wish to know how to return "home," do you not? Ahead of us lies the end of the Ruins. A one-way exit to the rest of the underground. I am going to destroy it."
"No one will ever be able to leave again. Now, go upstairs." Toriel sped off again, E-417 tailing her immediately as she sensed that this was the only way to lead her through. Toriel stopped after a little bit, sensing that E-417 had clearly followed her. "Every human that falls down here meets the same fate. I have seen it again and again. They come. They leave. They die." E-417 sucked in a sudden breath. "You naive human... if you leave the Ruins... They... ASGORE... Will kill you. I am only protecting you, do you understand?"
"...Negative." E-417 answered defiantly just as Toriel stormed off again.
When she caught up, Toriel stood before a large door. "You want to leave so badly? Hmph. You are just like the others. There is only one solution to this. Prove yourself... Prove to me you are strong enough to survive."
The room darkened around them, E-417's faded soul leaving her chest and hovering before her. Holding her head low, she glanced up at Toriel. Her training was telling her to fight, but something in her soul was telling her to not. Refusing to take a battling stance, E-417 was caught of guard when a string of fireballs just barely grazed her glove. When she looked down at her soul, she saw hovering numbers.
This didn't sound right to her. That last time she was checked by her supervisor, her health status was holding strong at 2,000. How had the number decreased to a single digit? Wary that a single attack would inadverdently kill her, she decided that dodging was going to be the only way she could prove to Toriel that she is strong enough.
After volley after volley of fireballs were thrown at her, Toriel began to crack. "What are you doing?" She sent another wave of fireballs at her, which she casually dodged. "Attack or run away!" Another volley. "What are you proving this way?" More fireballs. "Fight me or leave!" Still dodging. "Stop it." More fire, a piercing stare. "Stop looking at me that way." The fire began to fan away from E-417. "Go away!" She held her ground. "..." The fire stopped coming, Toriel looked sad. "I know you want to go home, but... But please... go upstairs now."
"Negative..." E-417 quietly responded, still standing her ground.
"I promise I will take good care of you here."
"I know we do not have much, but... we can have a good life here."
"Undeniable." E-417 responded once more, her soul ringing with remorse.
"Why are you making this so difficult?" E-417 stayed quiet. "Please, go upstairs."
"...Negative..." she whispered.
"Ha ha... Pathetic, is it not? I cannot save even a single child." Silence. "No, I understand. You would just be unhappy trapped down here. The Ruins are very small once you get used to them. It would not be right to keep you here in a place like this."
"My expectations... my loneliness... my fear... For you, my child, I will put them aside." The room brightened, E-417's bland soul returning to the safety of her chest. Toriel turned her back to her. "If you truly wish to leave the Ruins... I will not stop you. However, when you leave... Please do not come back. I hope you understand." She turned back around, clutching E-417 and hugging her tightly, rubbing her back. Stunned by this action, yet comforted by it, she let it happen. Toriel then stood, smiling while shedding a single tear. "Goodbye, my child."
With that, she tread down the passageway and back towards her house. Grabbing her journal, E-417 wrote down new notes.
'TORIEL - Friendly'
'Would have stayed'
Closing the book, she shoved open the door, only to be greeted by a familiar yellow flower that stood before her. "Clever. Verrrryyy clever. You think you're really smart, don't you? In this world, it's kill or be killed. So you were able to play by your own rules." Flowey's face changed to a menacing one. "You spared the life of a single person. Hee hee hee... I bet you feel really great. You didn't kill anybody this time."
'This time?' E-417 began to question mentally.
"But what will you do when you meet a relentless killer?"
"You'll die and you'll die and you'll die. Until you tire of trying. What will you do then?" A demonic grin grew on the flower. "Will you kill out of frustration? Or will you give up entirely on this world... and let ME inherit the power to control it? I am the prince of this world's future." She remained silent. "Don't worry, my little monarch, my plan isn't regicide. This is SO much more interesting." With that, Flowey cackled and then melded into the dirt, leaving her to try to collect her thoughts. She pressed forward, her hand touching the cold stone as she pushed open the large door. What caught her off guard the most wasn't the monsters, but this.
Snow. Snow as far as the eye could see. 'Snowhill: Negative. Climate: Questionable?' Stepping through the snow and along the path, she heard the sound of a stick, snapping in half. Wheeling around, she turned and looked at the source. A stick she had stepped OVER was now split into 3 pieces. Shaking her head, she turned around and continued forward, only to hear snow crunching under someone's weight, direcly behind her. Turning back around again, she narrowed her eyes at the direction. 'Being followed.' She rushed onward, stopping when she saw an icy bridge and a gate before her. The footsteps she heard earlier were now creeping up behind her.
"Human. Don't you know how to greet a new-" a baritone, gruff voice started when E-417 whipped around and bounced backward. Her foot hit an icy patch on the bridge, causing her to slide over towards the chasm. Quickly reaching upward, her gloved hand found purchase on a stray tree root, jutting out from the chasm wall. She immediately tried to hover back up when a burning feeling in her left wing reminded her of her predicament. Dangling over the edge, she panted sharply as her fear of what was about to become of her began to crash down on her. "shit! kid, grab my hand!"
Looking up, she saw what appeared to be a skeleton wearing a hoodie, kneeling over the edge and extending his hand out towards her. Swinging her other hand over, she grabbed his and was pulled back up over the edge and onto the snow. Crawling away from the chasm, she ended up sitting next to the unusual monster who had just saved her. Taking a quick glance, she noticed that he too had a gem on his chest. Unlike Toriel, this gem didn't have any engravings. Apparently the skeleton caught on to her staring and smiled. "like what you see, kid?"
"Adult." E-417 responded, averting her eyes from the gem and at his other attire. He wore a blue hoodie with silver lining along the midsection and a white fluffy hood, black shorts with a single white stripe up the sides, and a pair of blue flatboots with metallic toes. When her eyes connected with his, she reeled back upon feeling a sense of... familiarity. "Identify."
"names sans. sans the skeleton. and what's my damsel's name, hm?"
She stared off into the distance, trying to remember her own name. After several seconds of silence, she responded. "Unknown."
"huh. well... tell me more about yourself then." Sans suggested.
"Subject ID: E-417. Class: Unknown." she listed.
"subject?" E-417 nodded. "where do you come from if you can't even remember your own name?"
"hm... sorry kid, never heard of merry vale."
"Understandable." E-417 went to stand up when Sans placed his hand on her shoulder. She looked up at him.
"it's my job, kid. i gotta take you in. see, i'm a sentry here in snowdin."
"Snowdin..." She bookmarked the name in her mind for future research.
"me and my bro are supposed to be looking for humans. i wasn't expecting to see one today, much less save one."
"Pixie." She corrected.
"all the more reason we should take you back to snowdin. i've never heard of a pixie before, but that doesn't matter." Sans drug his finger over the thin material of her wings, causing her to wince loudly when it brushed over the left side. When he drew his finger back, she spotted a trickle of blood run down the side of his finger. "what matters is we get you fixed up. i'm sure a little monster food and some rest will patch this up right away."
She looked over her shoulder to inspect her wing, noticing an angry red trail along the inner fold. Fishing out her journal, she noted the injury of her wing and pocketed the book once more. When she stood up, she was greeted by a taller skeleton wearing a very familiar looking bodysuit, yet she couldn't place why she recognized it. Embedded on the center of his armor was yet another gem. She was beginning to associate these gems with the monsters since every monster she had encountered had one on their chest.
All except for one.
"SANS! I SEE YOU FOUND A HUMAN!" boomed his nasally voice. Flinching slightly from the volume, she was about to correct him when Sans beat her to it.
"nah. she's not a human, bro. she said she was a pixie."
"SHE'S HURT!" The taller skeleton bluntly pointed out.
"yeah. i was thinking we let her stay at our place til her wing recovers." Sans stepped in front of E-417's field of vision, startling her slightly. "you don't mind if papyrus and i look after you, do you?"
'Threat: Not Detected.' E-417 analyzed. "Negative."
"no... you don't want to go? or no, you don't mind?"
"Latter." She affirmed.
"good to see you trust us so easily, kid." Sans winked, grabbing her small hand and smiling. "you may want to close your eyes."
Chapter 14: Task
E-417 is under the watchful eyes of the skeleton brothers, but one of them can sense that something isn't right.
Darkness. Yet again. E-417 shut her eyes tightly as a wave of vertigo came crashing down upon her. The room spun around her, her head was also spinning and began to throb. When the air around her thinned, she pushed away from the skeleton and crouched down, taking in deep, heaving breaths. When she reopened her eyes, she saw magenta walls, a blue and pink zig-zag patterned carpet, and a green couch out of the corner of her eye. She recognized this feeling, but the intensity of the act was amplified. "Teleportation." she gasped out, sucking in an uneasy breath as a fresh wave of nausea washed over her.
"told ya to close your eyes, kid." Sans chuckled slightly, a hint of concern in his voice.
"Indeed." E-417 affirmed, moving to a standing position and getting a better view of her surroundings. It appeared that Sans had teleported her to his home, true to his word that he would tend to her injuries by feeding her and letting her rest. 'Sans: Ally' she noted. He noticed her staring at him for a moment and grinned. Scanning further, she ignored the smile and began to mentally catalogue what she has discovered so far. 'Gems: Vital? Task: Infer with Sans.'
"Sans." She monotonously called to him.
"yeah, kid?" he replied.
She pointed to the gem on his chest. "Purpose?"
Sans looked down at the gem she was pointing to, then grinned at her. "guess i should've expected that. humans probably have never heard of power gems before." E-417 was about to correct him when he continued. "don't worry too much about it, kid. i'll tell ya all about it when the time is right." He gently brushed his hand along her wing. "right now, we should focus on this." She hissed through her teeth when his hand rest on her injured wing, completely forgetting that it was injured even after being shown the injury not even a few minutes ago. He let go of her wing, bending down to pick her up when she stepped back from him. She shook her head. "i take it you don't want to be picked up?"
"..." E-417 stared at him for a moment, gesturing to him that she was quite capable of walking on her own.
"SANS! HUMAN! I'M BACK!" Papyrus boomed next to her, causing her to leap forward and perch on to the couch in a battle ready stance. When her eyes fell upon Papyrus walking in with a brown paper bag, her guard lowered only partially. "NICE MOVE, HUMAN!"
She narrowed her eyes, trying to analyze the taller skeleton's intentions. Her gaze was spotted by Sans and she felt a threatening aura hang over her as a warning. "what's wrong, kid? did my bro rattle you?" Sans snickered, but his voice betrayed the initial statement.
"SANS! DO NOT POLLUTE THE HUMAN WITH YOUR INCESSANT PUNS!" Papyrus shrieked. He turned to face E-417 as she still perched on the back of the couch, her back partially arched and ready to pounce, almost like a cat. "I APOLOGIZE FOR MY BROTHER. HE TENDS TO JOKE A LOT. I HOPE HE DID NOT OFFEND YOU JUST NOW."
"..." E-417 mulled over her thoughts. 'Sans: Detected Threatening Aura Upon Papyrus's Entrance Following My Instincts. Papyrus: Seems Harmless. Analysis: Do Not Aggravate Sans.' She shook her head at Papyrus's statement of her being offended, then glanced over to Sans. Easing her stance, she settled down on the back of the couch, staring at Sans.
"THAT IS GOOD! I HOPE YOU ARE HUNGRY, SMALL HUMAN! BECAUSE I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, AM ABOUT TO PREPARE THE BEST SPAGHETTI YOU HAVE EVER TASTED IN YOUR LIFE!" He posed dramatically, his scarf flowing in a non-existant wind. "AS MY BROTHER HAS SAID, SOME FOOD AND REST SHOULD HELP YOU FEEL BETTER IN NO TIME! AND I AM CERTAIN THAT MY COOKING WILL SPEED ALONG YOUR HEALING PROCESS!"
Papyrus sprinted off towards a nearby room, the sounds of pots and pans clattering signified to E-417 that the room was the kitchen. When she brought her attention back to Sans, she noticed that the tiny specks of light in his eyesockets were gone. She tensed once more, her training yelling at her to subdue him before he harms her, but something in her soul told her to merely remain silent. She went to reach for the pouch on her leg when her movements were restricted almost immediately. When she looked down at her arm, there was a faint blue casing surrounding her arm. She glanced back up to, who she could only guess as the culprit, and glared. "Release." she seemingly ordered as calmly as her voice would allow, despite its emotionless ring.
"how do i know it's not you?" Sans spoke, cryptically.
E-417 cocked her head to the side, one of her brows raising slightly.
"how do i know you mean no harm to my brother?"
"Analysis. Papyrus: Harmless. No Threat Levels Detected." She began to list. She shut her eyes for a moment before reopening them, her red irises glowing a bit brighter than normal, a small blue light radiating from her left pupil. "Sans: Unknown Threat Levels." She felt the pressure on her arm ease, but she still remained still. "Satisfied?"
"hardly." Sans answered, his voice quivering slightly. He waved his hand for her to continue doing what she was doing. E-417 reached into her pouch and procured her journal, writing down her current analysis. Once she finished writing, Sans snatched the book from her hand and scoured her notes. He glanced back up at her, his face ghostly. "what happened to you, kid? what made you this way?"
"Subject ID: E-417. Class: Unknown." she listed again. Sans slapped his hand over her mouth, effectively silencing her. Grabbing his hand, she pulled it down so her mouth was free once again. "Current Task: Unknown." She tilted her head at him, her eyes inquisitive. "Mission Deployer?"
Shaking with a barely kept rage, Sans looked up at her. "no... i'm not your mission deployer. just... stand down, kid."
"Negative." She replied.
"you don't have to live like this, kid."
"..." E-417 couldn't understand why he was being so caring towards her. She was trained to be an emotionless soldier, never showing her weaknesses. She couldn't even remember her own name. Whatever Sans was after and whoever he thought she was must be important in some way. She could sense his frustration. She could sense his insecurities. She could sense... something.
"hey kid." She looked at him for a moment, her eyes staring through him rather than AT him. "i... uh... i'd tell you a chemistry joke, but i know i wouldn't get a reaction."
Her face twitched slightly, unsure of how to react to the statement. This felt... familiar to her.
"SANS!" Papyrus screeched from inside the kitchen.
"Continue." She addressed.
"DO NOT ENCOURAGE HIM, SMALL HUMAN! IT'S ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO MAKE HIM STOP ONCE HE STARTS!"
"nah. it's not impastable, bro." Sans shot back, E-417 catching on to the word he had misspoken.
'Impastable... Impossible?' she thought, trying to understand what he was trying to say to her.
"REALLY SANS? SPAGHETTI JOKES?" Papyrus poked his head out from the doorway, glaring at his brother, but almost playfully. He looked over to E-417 and frowned a bit. "DO NOT LET HIS JOKES GET TO YOU, HUMAN. IF YOU LAUGH, HE-"
"Remember." E-417 interrupted, her eyes glazing over slightly.
"REMEMBER? WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO REMEMBER, HUMAN?"
"..." She tried hard to remember the name. The name of the one she remembers telling jokes like that to her. The one who protected her during her training. The one she could actually classify as her friend.
No... not a friend. Someone... closer to her than that.
"uhh... paps? can you give me and the kid a minute?" Sans plead.
"OH. OF COURSE!" Papyrus leaned back into the kitchen, leaving E-417 alone with Sans. He stepped forward, catching her off guard and causing her to leap off of the couch and over his head, landing in a crouch behind him. When Sans wheeled around to face her, he was surprised when she dashed forward, grabbing his hoodie, and slamming him into the wall.
"Identify." E-417 ordered, her eyes still fogged partially.
"i don't underst-"
"IDENTIFY." She growled out more firmly, her composure dripping. She felt the pressure that restricted her movements from earlier come back in full force, pushing her away from Sans and down on one knee. She glared up at him. "Threat."
"i don't want to hurt you kid, i want to help!" he half-shouted. "you remembered someone, didn't you?"
"...Affirmative." She hesitated, not wanting to divulge the information.
"what do you remember?"
"...Classified." she murmured, breaking through the strange magical restrictions and walking towards the upstairs area. She could feel his eyes burning in the back of her head, turning to look over her shoulder and giving a cryptic response. "Perhaps... In Time..."
She resumed walking upstairs, her eyes falling on two doors to her left and the one that was behind her. The first door on her left had multiple signs pasted on to the wood while the second door had a mysterious energy flowing from under it. Turning to glance at the door behind her, her arm bumped into it and opened it. Inside was all the essentials she would have needed; a bathroom. Staggering inside slightly, she went towards the mirror so she could better examine her wing. Turning her upper body to the side, she glared at her grey wing as her gaze fell on the angry red mark that seemingly burned on to the feathery texture.
When she went to leave the bathroom, she noticed something vaguely different about her; her hair was longer than it was before, her eyes were as bright as usual, but hidden in the red iris she spotted a faded pattern. She leaned in closer, examining the strange mark in her pupil. "Time..." she mumbled to herself, the silent question burning in the front of her mind.
As she stepped out of the bathroom, she was caught entirely off guard as Sans stood in front of her, his eyelights missing. They quickly blinked back into existence and his grin widened slightly. "sorry about that, kid." he muttered as E-417 slid by him. "you were in there for a while. everything alright?"
"Memories." She shook her head. "Missing."
"you can't remember something? that's it?"
"Important." She mumbled, pushing by him and back down the stairs and towards the couch. Sitting on the lumpy cushions, she began to think while effectively making her space out. She hadn't even noticed Papyrus having placed a plate of spaghetti in her lap until her eyes refocused.
"ARE YOU ALRIGHT, HUMAN? YOU DON'T LOOK SO GOOD." Papyrus remarked, kneeling slightly so that his face was level with hers. She turned her head so as to avoid eye contact, but she could almost FEEL what he was referring to. Her eyes felt droopy, her body felt weaker than usual, and it almost felt like her head was throbbing with her heartbeat. Gently moving her hand up to the side of her head and rubbing small circles, she frowned slightly.
"Unknown." she finally answered, grabbing the fork on her plate and swirling some of the noodles around it. She took a bite, bits of tomato tasted burnt and crunchy, the noddles were both overcooked and undercooked, and somehow she had overlooked the glitter in the pasta until she had bit into a chunk of it. Thankfully, due to her lack of emotion, she didn't comment on it. "Thank You." She felt the healing magic imbued into the food start to course through her body, gently healing the wound on her wing, but doing nothing for the slight headache she had acquired. Giving her wing a test wiggle, she felt only a slight throb instead of the searing pain from earlier.
When she finished the spaghetti and Papyrus took the plate from her, she leaned further into the couch, fatigue washing over her. 'Health Levels: Declined. Evident In Lethargy.' E-417 began to mentally collect. 'Regression?'
A pair of black shorts and a white t-shirt was thrown over her head, catching her off-guard for a moment. When she pulled the clothes off her face, she glanced over at the direction they had come from, spotting Sans scratching the back of his skull. "figured that... if you're gonna be recovering, you may wanna stay here with us for a while. but seeing as how you are clearly some sort of soldier, you don't want to be walking around in the same clothes every day without them being washed." Sans started, gesturing towards the clothes she was holding. "you're clearly too small for pap's clothes, so... you can borrow some of mine."
E-417 went to stand up when a splitting headache crashed over her, causing her to stagger a few inches forward while gripping her head. Sans rushed forward, reaching out to keep her steady when she sat back on the couch. Still holding her head with one hand, she began breathing heavily. A strange tugging sensation in the center of her chest stole her attention for a moment, causing her to glance up at Sans from under hooded eyes. His eyelights were seemingly reading something she couldn't see herself.
"health defficiency... kid, what kind of health problems do you have?"
"..." E-417 remained silent, cocking her head slightly in question and staring at him.
"so you don't know then." he immediately surmised, sighing a bit and then giving her a worried smile. "don't worry too much kid, we'll make sure you're back on your feet in no time." He ushered her up the stairs and into the bathroom. "if you need anything, just hollar. okay, kid?"
As he shut the door behind him, he let out a breath he hadn't realized he had been holding. Just who was this girl... and why did his chest hurt thinking about her lack of memory? He did his nightly routine of reading Papyrus his bedtime story and shuffled out the door towards Snowdin. The neon lights of the familiar sign were normally an escape for him, but maybe this time it could be a comfort. Stepping into the warmth of his favorite bar, he was greeted by the regular patrons, the pattern dull to him. As he sat in his stool, Grillby slid him his usual bottle.
As he took his first swig, Grillby immediately broke the ice. "Something is wrong."
Glancing up from his drink he frowned slightly. "guess it must be obvious if you could pick it up." he mumbled.
"I've known you for years, my friend. It is also my job as a bartender to lend an ear to my patrons." Grillby responded. Sans shut his eyes for a moment.
'this isn't the first time i've emptied my soul to him... only for him to forget again.'
'Take the chance.'
His eyelights shot open, searching over his shoulder in search of the voice that seemingly invaded his thoughts. He hadn't said that out loud, did he?
"Sans? Are you alright, friend?" Grillby asked, concern coating his very voice.
Glancing back to his friend, he nodded hastily. "y-yeah grillbz. just... just thought i heard something."
'i might just be going crazy... but the voice might be right. maybe i should take the chance.'
"actually grillbz, it's not me you should be worried about." he began, piquing Grillby's interest and causing him to pause his cleaning. "today, i met a humanoid of some sort. i've only known her for a few hours, but there's something about her. i feel the urge to protect her with my very soul. but i can't understand why." Sans took a big swig, slamming his drink down as he rubbed his skull. "the worst part is, the kid is sick with something and she was injured. i've tried to ask her what's wrong with her, but she always answers me with this bland voice. almost like a robot."
"Sounds like a form of conditioning." Grillby surmised.
"close enough. she's a soldier of sorts. she asked me if i was her mission deployer." He let off a frustrated groan. "i don't know how to get the kid to loosen up."
"Bring her here when she is ready. I may be able to help."
"i don't know if you'll be able to, but you're welcome to try."
This one took a bit. Sorry about that! I have a little writer's notebook when ideas come to mind, but it's all about the build-up, y'know? The ideas don't entirely do much when it comes to that. So again, any ideas you all have is welcome by me! There WILL be holiday based chapters at some point once the primary section is nicely wrapped up.
Chapter 15: Who Are You?
Deciding that she has waited long enough, E-417 presses into Waterfall, only to be stopped by someone she recognized.
She stood, watching out the window as the message from her dream last night played over and over. Mouthing the words, over and over, she tried to understand its meaning.
'Even the opposite among us must have cause.'
Who could those words be referring to? Could they be referring to Sans? Or even to herself? Without her memory, she couldn't be certain. All she could ascertain is that she can't stay here in Snowdin. She needs to continue and find the one the message was meant for. Tying her boots on snuggly, she glanced upstairs one last time to check and see if the skeletons who had sheltered her were still asleep. Opting against grabbing a jacket and rushing out the door, she sprint through the snow and towards a nearby cavern. Ducking inside, she saw a small yellow monster wearing a stripped sweater. Upon closer inspection, she noted that this particular monster didn't have arms and resembled a lizard or a gecko of sorts.
"Yo! Are you sneaking out to see her, too?" they greeted E-417, blind to the fact that she was in a hurry. Pausing for a moment, she thought. It would be wise for her to meet everyone, right? She nodded. "Awesome... She's the coolest, right?! I wanna be just like her when I grow up!" The kid paused and looked at E-417. "Hey... don't tell my parents I'm here, alright? Ha ha." The kid bounded further into the cave, leaving E-417 to stare at the spot he was at in pure confusion.
She eyed another of the sentry stations and noted that nobody was there. Quickly passing by it, she was stopped by a hand that landed softly on her shoulder. "early riser, eh kid?" She knew that voice. Glancing up without turning her head, she sighted Sans, now sitting behind the sentry station. "noticed you weren't on the couch when i woke up. paps almost freaked out until i showed him that note you left." He sat upright in his chair and leaned forward. "i'm going to grillby's. wanna come?"
'Grillby's. Location: Snowdin Town. Attempted Backset?' she mentally collected, weighing her options. She instead nodded, wondering just where he was going with this offer. Smiling a bit wider, he held his hand out for her to take. When she took it, she was immediately teleported into what appeared to be a bar. Staggering backwards a bit and taking a few deep breaths, she settled her stomach and glanced at the surroundings in further detail. Sans grabbed her hand once more, but much more gently and guided her towards the bar.
She took a seat in the stool next to Sans, a fire monster approached the two of them. His gaze fell on E-417 and he stilled for a moment, the dull crackling sound of his fire the only noise he was making. He must've noticed how stiff she was because his words struck her hard.
"At ease, soldier." Instinctually easing, she felt far more relaxed than she has in days.
"wow grillbz, you made that look really easy." Sans remarked.
"What is the meaning of this?" E-417 questioned, startling Sans for a moment at the fact she had said a full sentence. Her voice still lacked emotion, but this was progress.
"no point staying tense all the time, kid." He answered cryptically. Leaning over the bartop with his arms crossed, E-417 remained partially stiff but still relaxed. "you said something about the opposite among us having cause. what did you mean by that?"
"I am not sure myself, sir. Those are the words spoken to me." She glanced over to him. "I was actually hoping you could tell me its meaning." After several moments of silence, she got the hint. Standing up from the stool, she began to stroll towards the door. "Do not try to stop me."
The splintering chill of Snowdin cut through her, but her determination set her forward, through the snowstorm that was just kicking up. Once she reached the entrance to the cavern once again, E-417 pressed onward and into unknown territory. The cavern was damp, but a comfortable temperature. Shaking off the remnants of snow from her shoulders, she shimmyed through the tall grass. An ethereal blue spear shot into the ground in front of her as she exit the tall grass, causing her to sidestep and dance around the weapon. Glancing around for the source of the weapon.
Her eyes fell on an armored figure and her combat instincts kicked in. She went to grab her sword when she realized something important; she was completely unarmed. Narrowing her eyes, she brought her gaze back to the armored figure as they stomped towards her. "Who are you?" They calmly demanded, their helmet making their voice reverberate and E-417's bones to rattle in her skin. Sizing them up, she eased her stance only slightly and shifted to a different one.
"Subject ID: E-417. Class: Unknown." she stated, her foot scooting backwards and ready to run if it came to it. Her eyes narrowed once more as she eyed the guard in front of her. "Identify."
"Ha! Why should I tell YOU who I am?" they scoffed, summoning a spear in their hand and pointing the bladed tip towards her. "What I want to know is WHY you're here."
Cocking an eyebrow, E-417 registered the silent threat and answered accordingly. "Task: Unknown."
"BULL! You came down here to kill us, DIDN'T YOU?!" they shouted, swinging the spear angrily. Kicking off her feet and spiraling into a backflip, E-417's wings began flapping wildly as they held her aloft. Hovering a few inches off the ground, she glared at the guard. "What the hell are you?"
Refusing to answer, she darted further into the caves while leaving the guard behind her. Shouting after her, she refused to turn her attention towards the monster and instead pressed onward, bobbing and weaving through the caves until she bumped into something. Falling down to the ground and landing harshly on her feet, she panted and glanced over her shoulder to see if the heavily armored soldier was still after her. "what's the rush, kid?" spoke a familiar baritone voice.
"..." E-417 eyeballed him fiercely as though he had committed some sort of crime against her.
"at ease, soldier. i'm not gonna hurt you." Sans ordered.
Tucking her wings downward, she still shifted uneasily on her feet. "How can I be so sure of that?" Sans was about to comment on her accusation when she continued. "It appears that my presence here has been detected."
"that would be undyne, she's the captain of the royal guard."
"Protocol dictates that I kill her before she kills me, sir."
"D O N ' T." Sans's eyelights guttered out and his tone dropped. Sensing the threat, her wings spanned outwards, ready to take off when needed. Sighing, his eyelights returned to his sockets. "you said that you were hoping i could tell you what that message meant. well kid, i can." He held out his hand for her to take, but she refused.
"Any information you can tell me, you can say it here." E-417 glared lightly at him. "I was put here for a purpose, sir. Cryptic messages such as that are a means of communication and direction in my subject cell. Therefore, if you have the answer, it is best that you tell me what it means."
"kid, the contents of the message are best discussed in private and out of earshot."
"We do not have time to procrastinate about this, sir. Tell me what you know. Now." E-417 barked back, grabbing his hoodie and twisting the fabric around her small hand. Her hand brushed against the power gem on his chest, a small spark causing her hair to stand on its ends from the residual contact. She broke eye contact long enough to glance at the gem, then returned to staring at Sans. "What did your power gem do just now?"
His eyelights had guttered out, his breathing picking up. "no way." he muttered, more to himself than to E-417. When his eyelights returned, she was glaring darkly at him.
"Explain." she returned to her one-word commands.
"not. here." Grabbing her hand, still wrapped tightly in the fabric of his hoodie, he teleported them to a secluded bench with a lone flower perched next to it. Still glued to him, she breathed harshly as a fresh wave of vertigo hit her. "we can talk now."
Prying her hands off of his hoodie, he sat down on the bench and pat the spot next to him. Opting to kneel in front of him instead, E-417 gestured for him to speak. "What does the message 'Even the opposite among us must have cause' mean?"
"it means that you're the answer to my prayers, kid."
Shaking her head, she scowled. "Clarify."
"those are the words a very old friend of mine once said to me." He looked up to one of the ceiling stones overhead, twinkling and leaving a gentle shine on her crouched form. "they said that if i ever heard those words again, it means that this will all be over."
"What will be over?"
He reached his hand forward, brushing the front of her halter-top and tugging at her soul. The hueless soul hovered in front of her, resting softly in his hand. Squinting at the frail soul, his eyelights widened as he read her stats. "1 hp? how'd this happen?" E-417 shook her head. "so, you don't know then..." Running a finger down the length of her soul, her body stiffened at the alien feeling. It felt as though he had run his finger down her entire form, almost as if she were just a miniature creature. Her soul flickered a bright blue for a moment then dimmed with a flash of red, returning to the hueless shade. "your traits have been muffled. that's some powerful magic."
"I know nothing about that, sir." E-417 answered honestly, watching with cautious eyes as he pushed her soul back into her chest. "What does this have to do with your friend?"
"they were a powerful- what did you say you were again? pixie?" She nodded. "they were one of you. they disappeared for some reason, leaving that same message. they didn't know what their combat specifications would qualify them, so they just went with it."
"I am aware of the properties magic uses. What kind of magic did your associate use?"
"chains... orbs... really loved using a sword summoned with fragments of their very soul."
"Those are the magic traits of a broken past." E-417 blatantly remarked. "What were the soul traits, sir?"
He stared over at the flower, frowning slightly and reaching his hand towards his power gem. "...she was everything."
"That is impossible-"
"i used to think that too. but if it exists, it's not impossible. just hard to believe in its entirety." Clearly seeing how unsatisfied with the answer she was, Sans huffed slightly. "her strongest traits were integrity and determination."
"The chains represented being shackled to her convictions. What more can you tell me about the orbs?" E-417 procured her journal and began writing this information down.
"they glowed golden when she was dishing out justice and purple when she was pissed."
"Golden orbs were the representation of justice, as you said. The purple represented her challenge for the opponent to perservere." She wrote the findings in the notebook. "What of the sword?"
"as i said kid, she summoned with with fragments of her soul. with each strike, it hurt her target but not once did she take a life."
"Patience. The sword held a message through each slice." E-417 stilled for a moment as she looked back up to Sans, his eyelights blown.
"I'm running out of patience." "i'm running out of patience." They both finished.
"What of the other traits? Determination, Kindness." She inquired, readying her pen.
A gentle smile drew across his face, his eyelights roaming E-417's form as she stood and began to pace around the small cavern they were in. "she was the kindest girl i ever met. and she never judged me for my actions or when i accused her of being the anomaly. sure, she got sassy and even pissy from time to time, but she was the most understanding soul i ever met. even if she was half-human."
Stilling her hand as she wrote down his words, she glanced up at him from behind her bangs. "If I may speak freely, sir-" E-417 paused.
"you may." he gestured for her to continue.
"-you seem to regard this person quite fondly. What kind of relationship did you two have, sir?"
"she was my soulmate." Sans answered quite swiftly, catching E-417 off guard at the statement. "she was pretty determined to keep all of us safe. even if it seemed impossible."
"So, that answers what her determination trait was." Writing down the final note, E-417 stuffed the journal into her pocket. Shifting her stance, she stared at the seemingly crestfallen skeleton sitting on the bench. "Is everything alright, sir?"
"i'm fine, kid. don't worry about me." He replied, getting up from the bench and placing a hand on her shoulder. "you just worry about staying alive." He was about to turn and walk away when E-417 grabbed his arm.
"There is something you are not telling me."
"...nothing ever got past you." he chuckled under his breath, unaware that E-417 had heard him but didn't call him out on it. "there's a threat down here in the underground. one that nobody, but me, knows about." He turned to where he was facing E-417 and frowned. "their name is resurz."
'Resurz.' She mentally stilled, the name striking a chord inside of her and causing her eyes to bug out slightly. "Identify." She returned to her military, emotionless voice.
"murderous little shit."
"I need more than that if I am to stop them, sir."
"you aren't doing anything, kid." he ground out, turning his gaze away from her piercing one. Her big red eyes were burning holes into the side of his skull, her face flat but the message was clear; I'm not giving up. "fine. but don't say i didn't warn you, kid." He looked around the cavern, his eyelights falling on the flower by the bench. "she's got long blue hair, blood red eyes, and a cocky attitude. when she sees a monster, she kills it with absolutely no mercy."
'Task: Execute Resurz.' E-417 decided upon, standing straight and dusting off her knees. "Understood." Stepping past Sans, she brushed her arm by him, sending a spark of energy from her arm to his. Taking a sharp inhale, Sans's eyelights blinked out of existence at the clear message E-417 had sent him.
Resurz is as good as dead.
Just a heads up, guys. I DO take OC requests. Just give me the basic information (i.e: Hair Color, Eye Color, Race, Gender) and even what they prefer to wear. I will gladly add them when I can!
Chapter 16: Necessary
Some things are necessary when times call for it.
Crashing into the soft snow of Snowdin, Cherry picked herself off of the ground and growled under her breath. "How does she do this?" Straightening her tabard, she sprint through the trees and followed the unmistakeable scent of her magic. Bobbing and weaving through the placed traps, she lept over a small chasm and landed with a smooth roll. Not hestitating, she continued to follow the scent until she smashed into something. Or rather, someone.
Falling backwards onto her butt, she winced loudly as the snow stung her bottom. "you alright there, sweetheart?" inquired the voice of the person she had just crashed into. Looking up from under her long bangs, she spotted a Sans, the same gem she had seen on her mother's battlesuit, stitched onto his shirt.
Snarling, Cherry shot up to her feet and summoned her scythe, shifting her weight from foot to foot as she glared down the skeleton. "That gem!" Cherry shouted, her knuckles white from gripping the handle of her scythe so hard. "Where is she?!"
"who?" Sans replied cockily, his smirk widening slightly as he tested her.
"DON'T PUSH IT!" She swung her scythe, the force from the swing actually kicking up snow and blowing a fierce wind at him. "Where. Is. SHE?!"
"don't know... resurz." The area around Cherry darkened, her soul pulling from the safety of her chest and shining a brilliant purple and red. "perserverence?"
"I'm trying to stop her from committing a grave mistake, Sans. Now, where is she?" Cherry growled, stomping forward while raising her scythe. "Pixie woman. Short blue hair. Red eyes. I know she's been through here."
"how can you tell that, sweetheart?"
"Cause she's my mom, you idiot." The area around them lightened and her soul shot back into her chest, Sans's eyelights dark as he took in this information. "So, you didn't know."
"you don't look like her." he replied, turning his back to her and looking in the direction of Snowdin Town. "you'll find her deeper in the underground. probably near hotland by now." As she stomped past him, he spoke up once more. "she won't recognize you, kid."
Stopping dead in her tracks, she turned on her heel. "What do you mean?"
"someone locked away her memories and her soul traits. she doesn't even remember her own name. just the subject id e-417." Sans explained, his back still turned to Cherry. "best if you don't try to force her memory."
Narrowing her eyes, Cherry's right eye sparked brightly with red magic flames. "You have no authority over me." She warned, pressing further into the dense forest and setting her sights on finding her mother. Finding the riverperson that Soothing Sky had told her about, Cherry hopped onto the boat.
"Tra la la. Where do you want to go?" they hummed to her.
"Then we're off." The boat suddenly shot forward, the water cascading past her as a few droplets landed on her uniform. When the boat stopped in front of a small outlet, Cherry jumped off. "Come again. Tra la la."
When she nodded to the riverperson, she bolted up the stairs that were carved into the stone and onto the hot dusty expanse of Hotland. She heard a scuffle off to her right, her instincts telling her to go towards the sound. Sprinting towards the sounds, she skid to a halt as she saw her mother scuffling with Undyne, another of the gems embedded to the armor that Undyne was wearing. Undyne shoved her mother away and went to summon a spear when Cherry flipped over E-417's head and parried the spear attack. "What the-?! Another one?!" Undyne shouted.
Turning to face E-417, Cherry was surprised to see her eyes focused. Hoping that she recognized her, she stepped towards her. E-417 hopped backwards, shifting her feet into a combat ready position. Wanting to yell 'Stop!', Cherry bit her tongue at Sans's warning; that she wouldn't recognize her. Shifting her stance equally, she sent a silent challenge towards E-417. Charging at her with an unmatched speed, Cherry quickly brought up her scythe and stilled her charge. Clashing her forearm against the handle of the scythe, E-417 skid her backwards a few inches.
Buckling her knee, Cherry took the moment that E-417 was stunned and swung the rear end of her scythe into her stomach. Rolling end over end in the air, she recorrected herself and kicked herself into a backflip, her wings spread outwards. Gently gliding back to the ground, she narrowed her gaze on Cherry with a heated glare. "Is there something I'm missing here?" Undyne quietly murmured. Cherry glanced over her shoulder to look at Undyne, her glare softened in hopes that she would get the silent message.
"Halt your attacks, E-417." Cherry called out to her, remembering what Cahtke had told her about her activation. "Your handler has instructed me to deliver your mission, but it appears that you have another task on your mind."
She could see the analytical eyes as she scanned over Cherry, reading her face and her body language, trying to guage who she was. She must have recognized something, because her posture eased and she stood at attention. "What are my orders?" E-417 asked, her tone emotionless.
Her blood ran cold. This was her mother... but it wasn't. This was a stone-cold soldier, only following orders that are given to her. Shaking that fear aside, she took a deep breath. "Kill no one here. Locate the target 'Resurz Makina' and eliminate her. She is the only exception to the first priority." She then turned her attention to the fish warrior standing behind her, spear still clutched tightly in hand. "Undyne, may I speak with you?"
"Hell no! How do you even know my name?!" Undyne barked out, raising the spear in her grip.
"That's what I'm going to explain." Cherry turned back to E-417 for a moment. "E-417, continue forward until you reach a destination known as the MTT Resort. Rendezvous with Sans and wait for me to arrive. Proceed through the lab behind you. Follow the instructions given to you. And remember, don't kill anyone aside from Resurz Makina."
"Understood." E-417 curtly responded, turning on her heel and heading towards the lab.
Once she was out of sight, Cherry turned her attention back to Undyne. "Good, she's gone... now we can talk." She noted how uncomfortable Undyne appeared and shifted from foot-to-foot. "Know a place more to your liking we can chat?" Undyne raised her spear once more, Cherry stepped back and raised her hand. "Look, I'm not here to hurt anyone... I'm just trying to explain the situation. Will you at least let me do that?"
"We need 7 human soul to break the barrier... there are 2 of you down here as of now. You are standing in the way of our hopes and dreams!" Undyne yelled.
"We're trying to PRESERVE those hopes and dreams, you idiot!" Cherry barked back, balling up her fists for a moment. Taking a few deep breaths, she composed herself. "Look, just... it's best if we discuss this in private. Out of earshot." Undyne wasn't budging. "I know you don't trust me. But... please. If you really care about those you love, you need to trust me at least this once. Hear me out." She locked eyes with Undyne's one good eye. "That's all I ask."
After a few moments of silence Undyne finally let out a bitter. "Fine. Follow me."
Undyne had led Cherry back through Waterfall, a place she remembered quite fondly while she had grown up the first couple of years in Underfell. She remembered coming here to sit among the echo flowers, listening to the whispers of those who passed through. The whisperes may have not been cheerful at first, but her stay in Underfell gave the monsters there hope. A renewed hope that they had long since forgotten. Maybe she and her mother can do the same here? They came across a small rounded house, styled a bit like a fish itself.
"Come inside." Undyne ushered, opening the large door and stepping in while shucking off pieces of her armor. Cherry followed inside the quaint little home, her eyes trailing over every piece of furniture. Undyne had stepped over to the counter and began brewing something in a kettle. "Have a seat." She pointed to a stool in front of a medium sized table at the far wall. Complying without incident, Cherry sat down and waited for Undyne to sit with her. When Undyne approached with a mug and placed it in front of her, she sat across from Cherry with a skeptical look. "So, why are you two here?"
"First, a question. What do you know about multiple universe theory?" Cherry inquired, taking a sip from the piping hot cup of tea. While searing on her tongue, it tasted quite good.
"The hell kind of a question is that?! You said you would explain why you guys are here!" Undyne snapped, slamming her hands on the table and shaking it violently. Cherry remained unphased, figuring that she would react as such considering that Undyne had seemed to be the one to always have a bit of a short fuse.
"It connects to that." She answered calmly.
"Gh-! Nothing. I don't know anything about that kind of stuff. Sounds like something Alphys or Sans might know." Undyne responded a bit bitterly. "If I had to guess though, I would say it's the theory of there be many different universes?"
"To put it simply, yeah. Me and the other human you saw are from a different universe. That's why I know your name." Cherry pulled a photo from her tunic and passed it across the table. "Her name isn't E-417, as you could probably guess. Her real name is Zerrus Teknianu. And, she's my mother."
Undyne's eye shot up from the photo and up to Cherry's eyes. "You're kidding?! You?! From that tiny thing?!" She nodded. "How?!"
"That's... where things get complicated. You see, she doesn't remember that she's my mother right now. Her memory has been temporarily muted. Until she's been told the code to recover her memory, she won't know who I am." She sighed, leaning forward and cupping the mug in her hands, staring into the liquid. "It's a bit hard to understand why... but I know she wouldn't do something without reason." She pointed to the photo. "That's what my mother looks like normally. Tell me... what do you see in that photo?"
Undyne looked more closely at the picture. "I see a power gem."
"Yes. Now, why would she have a power gem if we're from a different universe?" Cherry asked, taking another sip from the tea. "That's something her 'handler', as I called her, wants to find out in addition to the destruction of Resurz Makina."
"That's another thing. Who the hell is Resurz? I feel like I've heard that name before, but I can't remember. Same goes for Zerrus."
"That's... we don't know entirely. Resurz attacked my school in our universe, nearly sliced Zerrus's wing clean off in the process, and issued a challenge. She's got a lot to answer for. But according to her handler, Resurz has the power to use her opponents memories as her strength and their weakness. That's why we muted Zerrus's memories. Her past is already a mess, so if Resurz got a hold of those memories... she wouldn't be able to stand a chance against her."
"So... she's from another universe. And this Sans is too?" Undyne pointed to Sans sitting next to Zerrus in the picture, giving her a firm side-hug and smiling his trademark grin.
"Yeah. That's why I know your name, Undyne. I know all of you. Hell, you're the one who taught me how to fight with my scythe." Cherry remarked, smiling fondly up at her. "But you see, I have a bad feeling about this. Zerrus can handle herself in a fight, sure. But... something feels off about all of this. Why does she have this power gem? And why did Resurz come here? I don't care if she told me to stay back home, I'm not standing down. Not this time."
"So. Why does Resurz pose such a threat? What's in it for us?"
"Ah. The real meaning of this whole operation. Look, Resurz only means to kill for the sake of killing. It's best if she's eliminated now before she becomes a sociopathic murderer hellbent on erasing the world. If we kill her now, you guys should be able to claim her soul. If not..." Cherry shuddered visibly at the thought of failure.
"Alright then. How can I help?"
"Inform me if you see a human with long blue hair, blood red eyes, and a sickening smile. In a sense, a mirror image of Zerrus. Don't notify her or use her true name. If you do, you'll risk of a mental collapse and the mission will be compromised."
"I'll see what I can do then." Undyne stood up, passing the picture back to Cherry.
"Another thing; please keep this meeting under wraps. Okay? If word got out that the captain of the Royal Guard was working with a human, the hopes and dreams of those around you might change unless you give them a strong enough reason for the assistance."
"Smart. Never thought a human could be smart enough to come up with a tactic like that."
"I'm not just a human..." Cherry stood, a swirl of purple and red magic collecting around her and building around her right eye. "I'm an Eternal Guardian."
Chapter 17: Abstract
Sometimes you need to keep the big picture an abstract piece of art. A mystery to others.
E-417 had just arrived at the destination the woman with red hair had instructed her to go to. Sans was reclined against the wall, staring forward with a blank expression on his face. She took a step forward and his gaze flickered over to her almost immediately. "hey kid, been waiting for you." Sans greeted, pushing off from the wall. "i'm sure you got the message if you're here then?"
"Yes, sir." She replied, partially relaxed having dealt with him multiple times already.
"good. good... come this way. i booked us a reservation here." He gestured her inside, stepping up to the desk and registering his name. The receptionist monster pointed him through to the dining area and he pulled out a chair for E-417 to have a seat in. "take a seat kid, there's a lot to discuss." Sitting down and massaging her wrist, she watched Sans as he took his seat across from her. "look kid, we haven't been telling you the whole truth."
Her eyes narrowed and her posture straightened at this information. "How so?"
"i can't say. not right now. but i promise that you will know in time."
Her vision blurred at the edges into white and unfocused. 'He lies.' echoed a voice in her ear. Choosing not to react to it, she remained stoic. "How can I be certain of that, sir? You have done nothing but conceal the truth from me since I arrived here." E-417 barked out, gripping the fabric of her pants tightly. "If you expect anything done from me, you cannot hide crucial details."
"i can't." Sans replied, looking down at his feet and huffing irritably. "i don't make promises often for a reason, kid."
"...I wonder why that is, sir." She stood up from her seat, an uncontrolled energy rolling around them. "You may try to keep me in the dark, but it won't prove to help your case! If I am to remove the target, I need to know EVERYTHING. No more lies." A hand rest on her shoulder, causing her to jerk around. She caught sight of the red haired woman from earlier. "Ma'am?"
"Stand down, E-417. I understand that you're frustrated, but you must understand something: there is method to this shadowing." She began, passing E-417 a tattered journal with a slight grimace. A hint of recollection flashed in her eyes at the old book. "This is an old journal dating back to the War of Councils that the program that trained you was based from. If you can read this, then everything will be clear to you." She passed the book over to her hand, expecting her to take it when she brushed it away. Recoiling back a bit, she stared wide-eyed at her. "What's the matter?"
"It's pointless." she muttered, turning briskly away from the two of them and towards the exit to the restaraunt. After her form had retreated from their gaze, Cherry turned to face Sans.
"That... didn't go very well. What happened?" Cherry inquired, wringing the journal in her hand slightly. Sans's eyelights were blown wide and she could hear a slight rattling sound. "Sans?"
"she remembers." Sans mumbled, standing up from his seat and moving to shortcut immediately to her. Cherry grabbed his arm, somehow stopping him from teleporting away in that moment.
"Calm down a moment! Rushing headlong at her will only make things worse! You gotta head her off at the pass!" She relayed, handing him a small folded sheet of paper. "Read this when you can. Steer clear of Zerrus."
She turned in the direction Zerrus had vanished to when Sans's voice cut through her focus. "where are you going?"
"I'm the only one that can stop her." Cherry answered, a swirl of purple and red smoke engulfing her whole before spawning her scythe. "She won't reply to you. She knows who I am if she DOES remember." She dashed off in a blink of smoke, landing in the Judgement Hall as she had anticipated. While her mother had preferred to teleport with more subtlety, she relied more on getting to the destination rather than discretion. She knew that what she was doing was risky. That trying to engage Zerrus would lead to injury if she was enraged to the point of complete disassociation. But she also knew that she was the only one capable of bringing this all to an end.
Zerrus stepped into view, the black attire she was wearing before was replaced with her bodysuit. Stepping out from the shadows, Cherry gazed downward at the golden tiles of the Hall. "Why? Why are you here?" Zerrus called out, her voice laced with disappointment and something else. "I told you to stay back in the Sacred Grove. This doesn't involve you."
"Is that so?" Cherry challenged back, her fist balled up and trembling. "You say that this doesn't involve me... when you know that isn't true. From the moment you were activated, you involved me. From the moment you came down here to the Underground, you involved me. I've been involved since the beginning."
"Don't you get it, Cherry?! I'm trying to protect you! Just... return to the Grove before things escalate!" Zerrus shouted, swinging her arm backward and channeling a wave of magic behind her.
"Is that a threat towards me? Or towards your own insecurities? Am I just a representation of those fears? Be honest with me, mom!"
"That's not it! You don't understand!" Zerrus sent a wave of chains outwards towards her, the magic swarming around her limbs and trying to wrap around them. Cherry could sense the intent she was projecting by using the chains; that she was trying to remove her. Refusing to let the magic consume her, she swung her scythe and sliced through the thick material of the chains, shattering them and sending her own wave of intent towards Zerrus.
I'm not leaving.
"Cherry. You know better than anyone that I may do things that seem unnecessary, but in the end they prove beneficial and the right thing to do. You saw it first hand when you were first born. When I was ready to strike Lust down when the body you inhabited exhibited their fears and my instincts overtook." Zerrus took a step forward, the metal toes of her boots clanging against the tiles of the Judgement Hall. "My instincts have never proven wrong. You need to leave."
Cherry shook her head, standing her ground and her grip on the handle tightening. "Not going to happen, mom. I know about Resurz. I know that she's an Eternal Guardian. You can't do this alone."
"She's NOT a Guardian, Cherry." Zerrus snapped back. "Her magic was tainted when she decided to use her holy powers for an evil purpose. She is a Bane Prince. Not only that-"
"So, you know everything then?" called out an eerie voice, causing Zerrus to jerk and a chill to shoot up her spine. Cherry whipped around just in time to see long blue hair creep out just behind her. Taking a hesitant step backwards, she narrowed her gaze at Resurz. "Yes, I am a Bane Prince. But there's more to it than that - isn't there?" She smirked devilishly at them, causing Zerrus to growl under her breath.
"Cherry, get over here. Quick!"
"Now hold on a minute. I believe little miss Cherry here has a right to know the truth as well." Resurz rooted Cherry to where she was standing, mystic chains binding her arms to the ground. Resurz smiled as Cherry's breathing picked up in pace as she approached her. "You want to know... don't you? You want to know what your mother has been hiding from you all this time."
"Chains... how do you know this magic?" Cherry muttered under her breath, partially struggling to break from the chains that she and Zerrus use so often.
"Why, it's quite simple - I am Zerrus."
"Don't play games with me! I know who my mother is and you are NOT her!" Cherry barked out, a flash of soul magic bursting around her body and rattling the chains that held her arms in place.
"You would think that, wouldn't you? Well, I AM Zerrus and I am not. I represent a side of her that was severed many years ago. Long before you were born." Resurz began. Zerrus shot forward, her own chains lashing forward in conjunction with a barrage of orbs that smacked into the ground where she was once standing. She swung her blade, missing Resurz by a wide berth and turned rapidly to see that she had jumped behind Cherry. "Now that was rude. I thought you were more patient than that."
"I am. But not for you." Zerrus retorted, bringing up her blade and holding it over her shoulder. "Face me like the true sociopath that you are."
"Wow. An insult to yourself? Surprised that your pride can even take that!"
"You shut your mouth! I'm nothing like you and will NEVER be like you!" Zerrus lept over Cherry's chained position and brought her blade down directly. Moments before her sword was to connect to Resurz, she grabbed Cherry and switched her position. Noticing this, Zerrus brought her sword upward and summoned a wave of chains to knock herself upward into the air to prevent herself from landing on her daughter. Landing on her feet with a heavy clank, she glared darkly at Resurz who was sporting a cocky grin. "That's just dirty."
"Why can't you just embrace who you really are? You can't hide from it." She called out to her, placing her hands on Cherry's shoulders and laughing maniacally.
"YOU GET YOUR HANDS OFF OF HER!" Zerrus shouted, switching from her sword to her rifle and taking a quick shot at Resurz's head. The mystic bullet missed by a mere millisecond as Resurz had teleported out of the attack and behind Zerrus. Sensing where she was, Zerrus whipped around and staggered backwards as she brought her rifle up as a makeshift shield when Resurz kicked outward at her in an attempt to stun her. Her foot connected with Zerrus's rifle, causing it to dispel immediately and force her to use her arms as defense. As she backed up with each strike that her arms managed to block, she began to feel just how powerful Resurz really was.
In a blind panic, Zerrus used a soul burst to knock Resurz away from her and used that moment to pounce over her with sword in tow. Slicing through the magic of the chains, she freed Cherry and pushed her steadily backwards with her free hand. "Mom, what are you-"
"Don't even begin to question me when we're about to get our asses kicked!" Zerrus blurted out, just barely blocking an attack aimed right for Cherry. "She's using you as my weakness! You need to get the hell out of here!"
"Oh, so you figured it out? Good for you!" Resurz taunted, stepping up to them with one step and forcing Zerrus to back up further with her blade radiating a brighter flare. "Why do you protect her so feverently? Is it because she reminds you of me? A side of you?"
"she protects those she loves." answered a baritone voice that sounded all too familiar to her. Resurz's soul turned blue, then just as it turned colors she was thrown to the side and into a wall at an alarming speed. A familiar stocky skeleton stepped into view and approached Zerrus and Cherry. "i didn't keep you two waiting long, now did i?"
"Hardly." Zerrus bluntly answered, still trying to gauge everything that just happened. After being kept in this universe for so long, she had learned a lot, not just about herself but about the world she was in. It was thanks to being activated and stripped of all inhibitions that she was able to learn these things, but now that her emotions had returned, she didn't know how to process things. But that was the least of her concerns right now. Her gaze trailed over to Resurz as she peeled herself from the wall of the Judgement Hall.
"Ganging up on the new girl, huh? I see how it is... Guess I gotta step up to the plate." Resurz snarled, the grin never faltering. A swirl of dark magic collected around her, blanketing her form and coating the room in a malicious energy. When the magic around her dispersed, she looked almost like a mirror image of Zerrus when she had used the tactic BLACK WIND when attempting to subdue Chara. "Does this look familiar, Zerrus?"
Zerrus slowly strafed towards Sans, with Cherry following close by, and grabbed his hand in a tight grip. She locked eyes with him for a moment, then panned to Cherry. "You know something... I almost envy you. You have all that power, but you choose to misuse it. I had called upon that magic a long time ago to stop an evil threat and I'm not afraid to do it again." Zerrus let go of their hands and stepped forward, reaching her hand out toward Resurz. "But there's a stark difference between me and you." Grabbing Resurz's hand in a death-like grip, Zerrus channeled a wave of her own magic to course through her body and, by extension, Resurz's. "I don't kill for the fun of it! I kill if I have to! And I'll start with YOU!"
A rainbow swirl of magic collected around Zerrus, followed by a black fog from Resurz as she kept herself locked with her. "What are you doing?!" Resurz growled out as her voice warbled with tainted magic.
"Taking back what's mine."
As the pure magic and the tainted magic were absorbed into her body, Zerrus was launched backward with an outraged shout from Resurz. Cherry launched upwards with a gust of wind and swung a collection of chains towards her. Sans teleported in the direction the Zerrus was skidding backwards to and stopped her. Glancing over her shoulder and giving him a curt nod, she righted herself and watched as Cherry used the chains as leverage to keep Resurz contained as the siphoning began to take place. "NO! You can't take my power!" Resurz shouted.
"Funny. I thought you said before that I couldn't kill you without intent to kill myself. By that logic, I can very well strip myself of tainted magic or even absorb more magic." Zerrus shot back with a smug grin. "Since I very well can't find a good enough reason to kill myself, I found this to be a better solution."
"If you thought of that... then that means-" Zerrus shot forward, clamping her hand over Resurz's mouth to effectively shut her up and narrowed her eyes at her.
"None of that matters now. What matters at this point is that you were born from the negative intent that derives from me. Without the magic born from that, you will die soon." She stepped back, her eyes drooped and her lips a flat line. "This will give you some time to realize that you don't... fuck... with me." With that, Zerrus launched a single chain at Resurz that wrapped around her mouth and kept her silent. With a sigh, she turned around and gestured for Cherry to stand down.
"Are you sure?" Cherry inquired, the faint glow of her chains fading with each passing moment.
"Yeah. You can't keep this up as long as I can. Besides... I think that Resurz won't be going anywhere without her magic to help her." Cherry nodded and dispersed her chains, Resurz falling to the ground in a slump with the blue tinted chains still wrapped around her mouth. Zerrus turned her attention towards the Sans of this universe and sighed. "I guess I owe you an apology."
"what for, kid?" he responded, unsure of just what she was implying.
"It's clear to me now that all of my magic came from here. That it was YOU I was originally soulmated to, to begin with. What you said to me in that cave is proof of that. But I don't remember ever seeing this place before. Well, I HAVE. But not this tangent." Zerrus began to explain. "You still hold a surprising amount of fondness for me Sans, but I don't know if I can return that sentiment. I still need time to think about where I belong." She stepped towards one of the stained glass panes in the Hall and gazed at it. "Do I belong in the Sacred Grove? Or do I belong here?" She turned back to face Sans with a look of uncertainty on her face. "I don't know... I've known the Sacred Grove all my life. But I can feel it. That my soul belongs here as well."
"I think... I understand what you're saying, mom." Cherry spoke up in a mumble, her hand to her chest and clutching at the tabard lightly. "I almost feel the same way. But according to the UTD, this universe is codenamed Undertech."
"Then I guess it's decided." Zerrus stepped up to him and held out her hand. "What do you say, Tech? Shall we start over?"
"tech, huh? ...i like it." Tech took her hand with a firm grip, but was surprised when she pulled him in for a tight hug instead.
"Let's forget the formalities and accept the truth, huh? You know who I am. We can't skim past that." Zerrus explained while still holding him in a hug. "I owed you that hug. Remember?"
Tech chuckled lightly then rubbed the back of his skull. "yeah, i remember. we were at grillby's. one of the dogs jumped on you when you sneezed and they thought you were a cat."
"I said, 'Thanks. I owe you one.' after you helped me up."
"then i said you could pay me back in a hug. you told me you'd have to think about it." Tech and Zerrus chuckled together at the fond memory, Cherry joining in with a few giggles of her own.
But the merriment was shortlived as a knife was driven through her arm and had sliced it clean off. Blood spattered to the floor as Cherry howled in agony. "CHERRY!" Zerrus whipped around in time to see that despite Resurz lacking any magic at this point, she still posed a threat. She could practically see the hatred and the smirk through her eyes as she drove the knife into Cherry's other arm and sliced that one off too. In a fit of blind rage, Zerrus charged forward with full intent to kill Resurz.
That was... until Tech had brought up a wave of bones and a blast from a blaster that cut through Resurz's body and had shattered her soul into millions of fragments. Rushing over to her daughter's side, she immediately called upon the kindness trait of her soul. "I... guess we should have kept a b-better eye on her..." Cherry coughed out.
Shaking her head she channeled a stream of healing magic into her daughter. She managed to stop the bleeding, for now. When she glanced over towards where Cherry's detached limbs had landed, all that remained was a pile of dust and blood. "How...?" Zerrus muttered. Quickly burying that to the back of her mind, she turned to Tech. "We gotta get her to the lab! Alphys should be able to do something!"
Chapter 18: Music of the Soul
Whether one knows it or not, everybody has their own melody.
Carrying Cherry in a fireman carry, Zerrus dashed towards the door of the Lab. "Dr. Alphys! Open the door! Please!" she cried out, her gaze dancing back and forth between Cherry's barely conscious form and the door of the Lab. The door opened slowly to reveal the very timid version of Dr. Alphys, the emobssed circuit pattern on her forehead the first thing she saw before she was ushered inside.
"Put her on the table." Alphys managed to speak without stuttering. Perhaps it was due to the situation they were in. Complying without problem, Zerrus gently placed Cherry on the examination table and stepped back as soon as Alphys stepped over to take her place. "What happened?"
"A diabolical human attacked her in the Hall prior to the throne room." Zerrus bluntly explained. "She used a knife I didn't even see her have on her." Shaking her head and gripping at her hair, she growled under her breath. "I don't understand though; how is it that she's dusting?! She's a human!"
"it's the knife." Tech answered, stepping up to Zerrus and placing a hand over hers. Snapping her out of her momentary breakdown, she refocused her gaze on him and frowned. "the knife was made from a very rare form of soul."
"Let me guess..." she pulled him to the side and whispered against his skull. "... the Omega Soul?" Tech reeled back for a moment before she sent him a knowing look. "I know more than you think. But I still don't understand how the knife made it possible for Cherry to dust."
"the omega knife manipulates the properties of anyone's soul and erases it. since resurz couldn't strike her soul directly, she decided to cripple her instead." Tech shook his head sadly, then stuck to staring at the floor. "i'm so sorry, kid."
"Shut the fuck up!" Zerrus snapped, grabbing his shoulders and shaking him slightly, her eye ablaze with rampant magic. "It's not your fault, so don't even THINK about apologizing for this!" Tech placed a hand on one of hers, his gaze not leaving hers. Her eyes widened and the flames died out. She then pulled her hands off of him and balled up her fists. "Dr. Alphys? Will she be alright?"
"M-Maybe. She's missing a lot of HP. She might not... m-make it." Alphys frowned, shrinking away from Zerrus.
"There has to be something I can do to help at the least! I know how to use healing magic. Maybe I can-"
"kid, you can't risk using any magic right now." Tech interrupted.
"What are you talking about? If I don't do something now, Cherry will die!"
"if you do something, you will die." His eyelights vanished, causing Zerrus to flinch and suck in a sharp breath.
Taking a moment to think, Zerrus recollected what had transpired up to this. She had learned that the properties of her magic were, as confirmed, a symbol of a broken past. Her kindness trait allowed her to heal others, regardless of her own health. But if the past human souls with kindness were anything to show for it, their kindness was their own downfall in the end. On top of that knowledge, she had to remember that she had absorbed an abundance of negative magic.
"Shit. You're right... Dammit." Grabbing a handful of hair, she groaned in frustration at her own hasty ignorance. "What else can we do?!"
"I can g-graft mechanical plates to conceal the w-wound. As well as b-boost her HP and possibly save her life." Alphys explained, glancing over Cherry once more. "I'm not s-sure how she would t-take it though."
"You mean mentally, don't you?" Alphys nodded. "Well, what other choice do we have at this rate? We can't reattach her arms. Resurz made sure to that."
A pregnant pause.
"Fuck it. Just... just do it, Alphys. It's clearly the only option we have. If Cherry doesn't take well to it, I'll explain the situation. She'll understand then." Zerrus groaned, pushing past Tech and towards the exit to the Lab.
"where are you going?" Tech inquired, causing Zerrus to stop in front of the door. She didn't turn to face him.
"I need to be alone."
"i don't think that's a good idea, zerrus."
"What would you know?" She growled out, her back hunching slightly in clear irritation. "You haven't seen me in God knows how long... and you think you know everything about what's a good or a bad idea when it comes to me?" The door slid open. "Think again, boneboy."
Storming out from the Lab, she immediately trailed to where the Riverperson was. Hoping onto the boat, she steady herself as it rocked slightly. "Tra la la. Where would you like to go?"
"Then we're off." The boat shot off down the rapids, the temperature from Hotlands quickly being replaced by a nice, cool temperature. As she stepped off the boat, she turned towards the Riverperson. "Come again some time! Tra la la." Nodding to them with a smile, she turned back towards Waterfall and pressed onward. She knew this place well. Her memories as E-417 were logged deep inside her mind, mapping the place almost expertly. As she rounded to Undyne's place, she was surprised to see Papyrus standing there; wearing the exact same bodysuit as her; except the fact that it was orange instead of blue.
"OHO! HELLO, TINY HUMAN! I WASN'T EXPECTING TO SEE YOU HERE!" Papyrus greeted her. "I WAS ABOUT TO HANG OUT WITH MY FRIEND, UNDYNE. PERHAPS YOU TWO COULD BECOME FRIENDS!"
"Perhaps." Zerrus shrugged, starting to feel uncertain about having come here.
"OKAY! STAND BEHIND ME!" She had no problem in complying with that. She was already standing behind him as it was. Not only that, she barely even reached up to his pelvis. The odds of Undyne seeing her were... quite high actually. He knocked on the door, which promptly opened and revealed Undyne standing in the doorway.
"Hi, Papyrus! Ready for your extra-private, one-on-one training?" Undyne greeted almosted immediately upon opening the door. Zerrus locked up, starting to feel like a third wheel already from that comment alone.
"YOU BET I AM! AND I BROUGHT A FRIEND!" Papyrus responded, stepping out of the way and revealing a very stunned, very uncomfortable Zerrus as she eyed Undyne.
'This... is bad. She doesn't know.'
"Hi..." Zerrus shyly waved, her whole body trembling.
'Please don't recognize me... Please don't recognize me...'
"Hi, I don't believe we've..." Undyne's face immediately drained into a sort of half-glare, half-grimace. "Why don't. You two. Come in?" She spoke through unease.
As she turned to enter, Zerrus felt just as tense as Undyne clearly was. "I think she recognized me..." As she stepped in, she had just watched Papyrus give Undyne some sort of... bone? A bone wrapped up in paper and tied with a bow. Definitely not the most unusual thing she has seen since meeting monsters.
"So are we ready to start?" Undyne asked.
"WHOOPSY DOOPSY! I JUST REMEMBERED! I HAVE TO GO TO THE BATHROOM!! YOU TWO HAVE FUN!!!" Papyrus shouted as he dove out the window to his left. Zerrus shielded herself instinctually at the sound of the glass shattering, her eyes shrinking down at the shrill sound.
She then glanced over at Undyne, who seemed to be barely keeping it together."So why are YOU here?" she began to interrogate. "To humiliate me even further? IS THAT IT?"
"N-No!" Zerrus quickly defended, not wanting to start a fight with Undyne. She really didn't like fighting her. Not one bit. Between the Undyne from her universe and this one, she wasn't sure which one hurt the most.
"Then why are you here?"
"I need to talk to you."
Undyne choked on her breath for a second. "Wait, I get it. You think that I'm gonna be friends with you, huh? Right???"
"Well, if that's the net outcome, then that's fine by me. But that's not what-"
"Really? How delightful! I accept!" Zerrus stunned for a moment. "Let's all frollick in the fields of friendship! ...NOT! Why would I EVER be friends with YOU?! If you weren't my houseguest, I'd beat you up right now!"
"Undyne, I just want-"
"You're the enemy of everyone's hopes and dreams."
"... Is that... really what everyone thinks of me?" Zerrus began to turn and leave her house, dark thoughts weighing heavily on her mind. "Hell... I think that's what I think of me."
"Isn't that what you just said? That I'm the enemy of everyone's hopes and dreams? Well. I think you're right." Zerrus kept her back turned to Undyne, not even noticing that Papyrus had returned to the window he had dove through. "No matter what I do, I seem to make things worse for everyone else. And it's not like I'm TRYING to. My own daughter has suffered due to the enemies that come for me. Right now... she lays, DYING in Alphys's Lab... and there's nothing I can do to help her."
She drooped her head, a deep sigh escaping her. "I may as well... just be dust." She paused. Everyone stayed silent. "Sorry for inconveniencing you."
As she went to leave Undyne's house, she was caught off guard as Undyne grabbed her arm and stopped her from leaving. "Why don't you have a seat?" she offered, almost guiltily. Zerrus turned slowly, Undyne guiding her to the stool at the table in her living room. As she sat down, Undyne smiled warmly. "Comfortable? I'll get you something to drink." Zerrus watched as Undyne walked over to her cabinet and began pulling a few items from there. Her gaze panned over to the window, where she felt someone was watching a while ago, but saw noone there. "What would you like to drink?"
"Uhh..." Zerrus began to step away from the stool when she launched a spear right at the table, causing her to half-squeal, half-groan at the reaction. "I... can't... read what they are from here?" She explained nervously.
"Oh. Uh. Sorry." Undyne apologized nervously. Zerrus pulled the spear from the table effortlessly, returning it to her and stepping over to the counter to see what she had laid out. Sugar... Soda... Hot Chocolate... and Tea. The soda wasn't appetizing to her at the moment. She didn't feel like belching in front of Undyne. The hot chocolate sounded good, but knowing her history with chocolate, it wouldn't have been a smart idea. She instead chose the golden flower tea. "...Tea, huh? Coming right up."
Zerrus planted herself back on the stool after choosing, watching as Undyne prepped the tea for her. This gave her time to think. 'Why did my thoughts turn so... suicidal? I've never been suicidal before. Could it be...' Undyne placed a blue mug, shaped like a fish in front of her, pulling her out of her thoughts.
"Here we are. Careful, it's hot." She sat across from her, watching as Zerrus gently palmed the mug to gauge the tempertaure. She's misgauged temperature when drinking hot tea before. She would much rather NOT burn her tongue again. "It's not THAT hot! Just drink it already!"
Zerrus took a sip of the tea, immediately searing her tongue, causing her to place the mug down immediately and place a hand across her mouth as she groaned quietly. But, other than the initial pain, it tasted really good. "It's good. You know, minus the whole burning-your-tongue bit."
"Hey... You know... It's kinda strange you chose THAT tea. Golden Flower Tea. That's Asgore's favorite kind."
"Huh. I didn't know that." Zerrus muttered. "I've only met Asgore once. He was tending to a garden of golden flowers. But, the first time I had this tea was with Toriel." She held the mug in both hands, blowing on it slightly and taking another sip. "Where I come from... monsters and humans... we get along pretty well. But there are some factions of humans that just don't get it. They'll do whatever it takes to try to drive their point home."
"Heh. I'm surprised you're taking this news so easily..."
"Your daughter told me." Zerrus jumped at that, her eyes widening and locking onto Undyne. "She told me... that you're from another universe."
"Yeah. I am. But... why are you even listening to me? I'm just... a human. One who really has no purpose here."
"That doesn't matter. You have a fire in your heart that says 'I'm not afraid to stand up for what's right'! And on top of that, you've proven to me that not all humans are bad. Even though you and I were fighting earlier..."
"About that... I am so sorry about that. You see, I was trained as a sleeper soldier. I was activated and sent here on a mission. You... were impeding that mission, so I had no choice but to fight you. Heh. You were really lucky that I still retained SOME of my morality." Zerrus shuddered at the thought of dusting someone, beyond her control. "I was successful in my mission, but at a cost. As I said earlier, Cherry is dying. Alphys is grafting parts onto her body to keep her from dying because..."
"I can't use my magic anymore. If I do... I'll end up killing myself. The fear of losing her... it's painful. But what if I can't do it? What if I tried and all I managed to do is only kill myself?" She shook her head. "I can't take that risk. Te- Sans already talked me out of it."
"You and Sans seem pretty close." Zerrus nodded, moving to take a sip of the tea when Undyne's grin widened almost smuggly. She cocked an eyebrow at her. "Why don't you two go to the bonezone?"
Spewing tea all over herself, tea dribbling down her chin and out of her nose, Zerrus choked and sputtered as Undyne's words hit her like a punch in the face. "Ba-scuse me?!"
"Fuhuhuhu! You don't need to be a scientist to see that you two belong together! Just treat him, girl!"
"Hooooooold up there! Just- who-? WHY?! Why would you even SUGGEST something like that?! HOW did you even KNOW that Sans and I are-?!"
"Cherry showed me a picture of you and your Sans, together. You two looked really happy."
"That... might be true. But regardless of the fact- I can't just DO something like that! I'm not like most humans! I don't just invite ANYONE into my personal bubble and say 'Hey! Let's get down with it!' The fuck?!" Wiping the tea from her face, her gaze darkened. "What brought this up...?"
"You mean you can't hear it?" Undyne's eye widened in surprise.
"Hear what? The insanity of your proposal? Yeah. I hear that. And quite frankly... I don't like it." Zerrus grumbled.
"Your soul. Your soul has a melody. It changed when you spoke about Sans." Undyne explained.
"Nah. No I don't hear it at all." She looked down towards where her soul is and grimaced slightly. "Does it change when I talk about other things?"
"I don't know. I think it changes based on your thoughts."
"My thoughts? How come you didn't comment on it earli- ohh." Zerrus facepalmed, chuckling slightly. "I forgot that I'm the kind of person who doesn't actually THINK passively. If you heard a melody, it probably blended with the environment or just the situation in general. But other than that, I don't think often. Maybe... it only works on 'loud' thoughts?"
"Maybe. But that's cool. Wish every soul was like that."
"Wait! That's it!" Standing up from the table she placed the mug into Undyne's sink and quickly wiped up her mess. "Sorry to bolt on you like this, but I think I know how to solve my problem!" As she ran out the door she shouted over her shoulder, "Thanks for the tea, Undyne!"
"Man. That girl is really wierd." Undyne muttered to herself, laughing silently as she watched Zerrus's retreating form. "Well, whatever suits her, I guess."
Chapter 19: Lost
Lost in the waves of uncertainty.
Leaping off of the boat and sprinting towards the Lab, Zerrus pressed against the door as the scanner hadn't had time to initiate the process of opening the door. When the door finally opened, she smacked into the puffy jacket that belonged to Tech, only to have him stagger back a couple of steps and take her with him. "whoa. slow down there, kid! what's the rush?" he stammered as he struggled to right his balance from the force of a 200 pound pixie ramming into him at a high speed. Zerrus pushed away from him, blushing furiously at the reminder of what Undyne had said before. "something on your mind?"
"Not that it's any of your concern. Nor of our utmost." Zerrus replied bitterly, crossing her arms and willing the thought to go away. "Where's Cherry?"
"still being worked on."
"Good." Zerrus trudged forward, grabbing him by his sleeve and practically dragging him along with her. "I don't have time to explain any of this to you, but what I'm about to do may seem... unusual." Stepping into the middle of a large room, Zerrus placed both her hands over her heart and took a deep breath.
A rainbow of energy burst from around her, her soul lurching from her body and hovering just in front of her. Listening closely, she heard the melody radiating from her soul; calm and methodic, much like herself. Feeling herself peel from her body, she watched as her physical body slumped to the ground and Tech rush to her side. "zerrus! zerrus, wake up!" Tech called to her body, shaking her loosely.
"I'll be fine, Tech. This isn't the first time I've commenced an Overdive." she whispered. Tech jumped slightly, looking around the room for the source when his eyes landed on Zerrus's body. "Though... this is the first time I'll be doing this on another soul." She turned from him, looking towards the fading light that she knew was Cherry's soul. Taking a deep breath, she bounded towards that fading light and was met with darkness the moment her 'body' connected with Cherry's.
Standing still, she focused all of her intent on locating Cherry's conscience and bringing her back. Only a faint signal responded back to her, too faint for her to pinpoint an exact position, but enough for her to know where she needed to go. All the while, the sound of Cherry's doubts echoed around her.
"What does it matter?"
"I'm only a burden."
"She used me."
She? Who was this 'she' that Cherry was referring to? Whoever it was, clearly they had impacted her soul in a powerful way. Following the voices of doubt, Zerrus closed in on a levitating light. The light was flickering in an out, almost like that of a dying lightbulb. When she attempted to reach out to the light, she was instantaneously forced back and skid to a stop a few feet away.
"So... it's gonna be like that, huh?" Zerrus remarked to herself. She ground her feet to the darkness and pushed forward, her fingers outstretched as she reached for that fading light.
"I'm better off dead..." the voice of doubt rang in her head, causing her to still and get thrown back further as a result. Landing harshly on her butt, she glanced up at the light and connected the dots.
"Cherry! She's... falling down!" Zerrus bellowed out, leaping to her feet and pouncing towards the light again. The force holding her back was seemingly stronger, all of her attempts to approach the flickering hope were failing. "No no NO! I will NOT let this happen!" Glancing down at her own soul, which was glowing brightly in her chest, she quickly concocted a rather reckless plan. "All I gotta do is transfer some of my life magic over to Cherry." Grabbing her soul and forcefully splintering off a section, she winced and groaned loudly as a dense liquid dripped from her soul.
Pushing her hand outward and throwing the small fragment at the light, she watched with wide eyes as the light absorbed the piece of her soul and snuffed out.
"Mom...? No... I have to stay determined!" the voice shouted, the light exploding outward and knocking Zerrus out of the darkness, throwing her soul back.
Everything blurred by her, then the force of her slamming into her own body jarred her so much that when her soul and body reunited, she gasped sharply and clung to Tech's jacket like a lifeline. "kid?! you alright?!" he shouted, leaning down to get a closer look at Zerrus's face when she shot up from a seated position.
"Ch-Cherry." she coughed out, staggering on to her feet and moving to run over to the locked room where Cherry was being operated on. Banging into the door, Zerrus hyperventilated as she fought to open the door. "Dr. Alphys! Open the door. PLEASE!" The door's automatic sensors clicked and the door slid open, Zerrus rushing forward and almost tripping over her feet. She staggered over to the operating table, where Cherry was laying with her new shoulder plates which concealed the injury sites. "Dr. Alphys, I need you to run a soul check, NOW."
"Right away." she responded, rushing to a monitor and keying in a sequence. Alphys shuffled awkwardly with a collection of cables as she hooked them up to Cherry's soul. "Running the s-scan now."
Cherry's stats appeared on the monitor beside them.
CHERITANA TEKNIANU LV 1 HP |______________|| 1/370
ATK 105 DEF 17 EXP 0
"She was falling down a moment ago." Zerrus mumbled, her eyes narrowed at the display. She turned to look at Cherry's body as her HP slowly rose back to its base. "She should wake up soon."
"zerrus." Tech growled out, a chill shooting up her spine. "what did you do?"
"I saved her life." She stepped over to the side of the table. "That's all I'm going to say." She positioned herself to grab Cherry when her big blue eyes opened slightly. "Welcome back to the world of the living."
She went to sit up with the aid of her arms when no such thing occured, causing her to remember what had recently happened. Her soul dimmed slightly. "How am I alive...?" Cherry asked, Zerrus slowly assisting her up to a sitting position. "I... remember Resurz... and the Judgement Hall."
"Yeah... I'm sorry Cherry. But this was all we could do for you." Zerrus mourned for her, shaking her head and moving to stand up. "I'll take you back home. We're not going on any more of these escapades until we confirm something that is nitpicking at my mind." She turned her gaze towards Tech. "Tech, the machine in your basement. May I work on it to get it back to working specs?"
"uhh... sure? if you can figure out what's wrong with it and get it running, knock yourself out." Tech permitted, moving to grab her shoulder and shortcut them back to his house in Snowdin. Zerrus stepped back, placing her hand on the small of Cherry's back.
"We can't risk a teleport. Cherry's soul wouldn't be able to sustain the strain."
After taking a long ride back to Snowdin, Zerrus eased Cherry off of the boat and towards the home of the skeleton brothers. "i'll take her inside and get her comfortable." Tech spoke, moving his hand towards Cherry's shoulder to guide her, only for her to move inside with a slight huff. "here's the key to the basement." He tossed the key towards Zerrus, who caught it effortlessly in mid-air. "lemme know if you need anything."
"I probably won't. Just keep an eye on Cherry's condition." She instructed, heading towards the back of the house and to the secret basement that he had. After having spent time in Underfell and having repaired the machine there, she knew almost immediately how to repair the machine and get it back into working order. That's why she wasn't surprised when she opened the door and saw the exact same clutter that she had seen in Underfell, minus the unusual dark aura that hung in the air there.
When she approached the machine, she tapped the gem on her chest, the gem glowing to life. The light from the stone engulfed her, stripping off her battlesuit and replacing it with a simple black tank top and blue jeans. Bending over and reaching to pull the first panel out from the machine, she strained as she put her bodyweight into it. Popping off with a loud metallic bang, Zerrus rolled over onto her back with the panel still in her grip. Groaning a little under her breath at the ridiculous pose she ended up in, she rolled back over onto her knees and crawled over the now-exposed wiring of the machine.
Just as she had expected, the wires inside the machine were frayed and damaged. Quickly snipping off the damaged sections and splicing the wires together, she watched as the machine whirred to life. "Looks like there was far less damage to this machine than the other one." Zerrus analyzed under her breath. "I was expecting to be here for a few hours. Surprised it only took a few minutes. Better go get Cherry and go back to the Grove then." Dusting her hands and walking out from the basement, she was surprised to walk facefirst into Tech's chest, her nose bumping into his gem. "Ow."
"little bird told me that undyne spoke with ya." Tech smirked smuggly, Zerrus backing up and rubbing her nose. She narrowed her eyes and raised one of her eyebrows. "she said somethin' to ya that made you a bit... flustered."
"What makes you say that?" she ground out, crossing her arms and tapping her foot. Popping out from behind the corner, Undyne smiled widely with her toothy grin. "Ohh you little-!" Zerrus's eye lit up with firey magic, taking a single step towards her but was promptly stopped when Tech placed a hand on her shoulder. "Not happenin'."
"i can tell. but i gotta ask; why did you act so flustered when she suggested it?"
She grabbed his shirt and shoved him against the wall. "I'll tell you... when you have 4 skeletons that all hit on you in varying manners, you kinda build up a stronger wall. So far, the Sacred Grove's version has been the only one that's been tolerable." Her gaze flickered up to where she could easily sense Cherry, waves of unease and sadness radiating off of her soul. "But as I said before... that is NOT our utmost concern. I need to bring Cherry back home. And this time... I'm going to finish this."
Letting go of his shirt and turning back to the machine, she frowned. 'I know I'm being used. Cherry was being used. And there's only one person I know that could be responsible for this.'
'You're going to pay for this... Soothing Sky.'
"you're thinkin' a bit too hard there." Tech spoke, breaking her from her thoughts.
"Lemme guess... you heard what I was thinking."
"yep. and you aren't doing this alone."
"Why do you want to help? This involves my universe. Not yours. You have no reason to endanger yourself anymore than you already have."
"look, if i didn't want to do this in the first place, i never would have suggested it. besides... there's something you should know." Tech took a single step towards her, placing a boney hand on her chest. "it's about your soul."
"Perhaps... we should talk about this somewhere more... cozy?" Zerrus crossed her arms and shivered slightly. "I'm not exactly dressed for this weather you know." As they stepped out from the workshop, Zerrus shot Undyne the most disgusting glare she could muster and followed Tech inside the house. The nice warmth from the home washed over her, causing her to exhale a sigh. "Y'know... it didn't dawn on me that I haven't really had that much of a proper break in... well, years."
"there's only one thing stopping you from doing that now. but for right now, just take a break and relax a bit." Tech called out from his kitchen.
Zerrus looked to her side and saw Cherry, fast asleep on the couch. Bending down and scooping her up, she carried Cherry with her up the steps. Glancing between the two rooms, she struggled to determine which room she should put Cherry in; Papyrus's or Sans's. Opting to place her in the care of Papyrus, she knocked on the door.
"COME IN!" he called from the other side of the door. Opening it awkwardly, Zerrus shuffled inside with a sleeping Cherry in her arms.
"Hey Papyrus? Is it alright if Cherry sleeps in here tonight? Sans and I need to have a discussion. One I'd prefer her not to hear if she does wake up." she explained calmly.
"Say no more. I'll tend to Miss Cherry. Poor thing looks so tired." Papyrus whispered, his volume so much lower than it once was.
"Thank you." Turning to leave the room with a final glance at Cherry, who Papyrus was tucking snuggly in to bed, she closed the door quietly. As she descended the steps, she spotted Tech sitting on the couch with a bottle of whiskey on the table in front of him, two glasses next to the bottle. "Heh. That your idea of taking a break?"
"if i've learned anything kid, it's that alcohol can help ease the tension. i'm not trying to get you drunk or anything." Tech replied.
"Now I have my suspicions." she spoke out, a small grin etching her lips. The look on Tech's face was priceless. "Just kidding. I don't get drunk that easily." Sitting down next to him, she leaned forward to where her arms rest on her knees. "So..." Tech held up his hand and poured the first round of shots, handing her a glass she took it almost shyly. Clinking their glasses, they took their shots and she felt the unusual tingle of magic that was infused in the whiskey go down her throat. "As I was saying... you had something to say about my soul?"
"yeah. something you really need to know. how much of your past do you remember?"
"Not far enough in. I only remember little snippets here and there."
"that probably happened when you were torn from this universe years ago."
"Torn...?" Her eyes widened in evident shock, leaning back into the couch and crossing her arms in a vain attempt of shielding her soul. "Can you... explain?"
"you weren't really born. you were made."
"I was made? Well, that would make sense seeing as how I found the hidden records in the caverns of the Sacred Grove... It identified me as RACE: Unknown. Just how complex am I?" Zerrus almost growled, her eyes narrowed into a glare. Tech leaned forward and prepared another shot for them to take. "You want me to chill out some more before laying this on me, or something?"
"it's for the best. i've seen how dangerous your magic is when you're pissed." He replied, handing her the glass and the both of them downing the magic drink. "kid... you aren't even really a human. you never really were." Zerrus was about to say something when Tech turned his gaze towards the cave sky. "long ago, a human body fell down into the underground. their soul was no more than a husk; all life was drained from their body. the previous royal scientist saw this as an opportunity... a chance to create a new weapon against the humans who sealed us away in here."
"A... weapon...?" she whispered under her breath.
"using different methods to manipulate the empty soul, he tried everything. that was... until he had an idea. what if... we combined a monster soul with this human soul?"
"You... you merged a monster soul with a human soul?" Zerrus's eyes bugged out and her body locked up into that of a statuesque pose. "Whose soul was merged with the body?"
Tech's gaze dropped to the floor for a moment, then panned back over to her. "mine."
"Y-yours? Your soul was merged?" He nodded. "I guess that explains the soulbond... What exactly does this mean to me?"
"you're neither human nor monster. you are a hybrid of both of our species. i'm sure you've noticed the physical changes to your body"
"Yeah... the changes became so drastic when someone from the Sacred Grove had abducted me and a few of my friends on my birthday one year and experimented on me. It probably accelerated the changes to my soul from the merge or something."
"sounds about right." Another shot. "if this keep up you'll be more monster than human before you know it. i'm telling you kid, you gotta be more careful about your powers."
"I keep hearing that. But just what am I supposed to be so careful for? I've had so many people ask me what my class specifications are and I don't even know myself! How am I supposed to be more careful if I don't even know WHAT my powers ARE?" Setting the glass down on the table, Zerrus stared at the markings that danced up her arm. "You said... I'll be more monster than human if this keeps up. How much more of a monster could I possibly be than this?"
"you still retain much of your former humanity. which is odd seeing as how you didn't really have a conscience when you fell down here. your body was just... a body. the soul was only a shell. so, basically to see that you have personality after all these years is such a relief to me. a weight has been lifted from my shoulders." He looked into her red eyes, his eyelights pulsing slightly. "i was almost shocked when you exhibited no emotion at first. then i remembered the trigger system that the doc had installed into your soul upon fusion."
"Wait. You KNEW about the trigger system?"
"i insisted on it. the doc wanted to remove all emotions from you, in case you decided to rebel against monsters and work for humanity. but i knew, deep in my soul, that you wouldn't do that."
"So... you spared me from complete lobotomization." Her vision was swimming slightly from the effect of the magic liquor coursing through her veins, but forcing her way past that, she focused her gaze on Tech's. "Is that why you chose the term word 'enigma'? Because I am physically an enigma?"
"that was his doing. not mine. but in truth, what really made you an enigma was your powers. not only did your powers express physical tethers to your past, but there was a core power in you that was never awakened." Tech moved his hand towards her chest and rest it just above the spot where her soul would be. "only you have the power to rend one's soul from its body... hence your true class title; soul render."
Remember, all chapter are based off of reader requests and take a much longer time to submit than DETERMINATION will. This chapter alone took me literally 2 months to write. I wrote half of it, then couldn't submit it due to such a lack of information. Anything you can suggest would be greatly appreciated.
Chapter 20: Past
The memories of her past has come back to haunt her dreams, the questions ever present. Who was she? Who really is Resurz? And did she do the right thing?
Floating in the foggy darkness of her mind, Zerrus stared forward and listened intently; waiting for the signs of an attack. The previous encounters in her dreams where there was nothing but darkness, she was attacked by something, or rather someone. When the sound of someone approaching her drew nearer, she turned her levitating body towards the source, only to spot Resurz. Readying her sword, she glared at the obvious threat that hovered before her. "Wow. You don't even give me a chance to explain my presence?" she remarked, clearly stunned by Zerrus's immediate reaction.
"You know why." Zerrus responded bitterly. "Why are you still here?"
"Well, your little bonefriend is the one who killed me. Not you. So my soul still exists. Duh..." Resurz crossed her arms and leaned back, swinging one leg over the other. "You really don't know why I did what I did, do you?"
"I don't care. You ruined her life!" Bringing the blade up and moving a little closer to the lax Resurz, Zerrus was stopped by her simply raising her hand.
"Actually, I SAVED her life."
"Saved? How is chopping off her arms SAVING her life?!"
"Think about it, dum-dum. You're a Soul Render. Cherry is your daughter. Some of those magic traits have been passed down." Moving from her relaxed position she leaned forward and poked at Zerrus's nose. "You, little miss temper, don't even know how to USE your power. And there should only be ONE Soul Render in the rotation of the Guardians!"
"I read the journal... your name... are you the Resurz from the time of the Council Wars?" Zerrus slowly questioned, the grip on her blade loosening only slightly.
"Right you are."
"Based on that, you were an Eternal Guardian." Dismissing the blade entirely, Zerrus leaned back into a sitting position in the weightless air. "What changed?"
"The clash with the other kid, Newb." Resurz calmly explained. "He was a Bane Prince. When we battled, we destroyed our bodies but not our souls. I wandered the ether for years, searching for a durable host to reside in... when I found a magical font." She gestured to Zerrus. "Your body is actually MY body. Somehow it was thrown into the Underground in the universal tangent you mortals have dubbed as Undertech. Very fitting I must admit."
"So, by losing your body you lost your status?" Resurz nodded. "Why did you decide to kill? You knew that as an Eternal Guardian, your soul is forever bound in holy supremacy. Why befoul that?"
"Not like I had a choice. In fact, I was actually fulfilling my duties."
"Duties? What duties entail MURDER?" She rolled forward, moving to grab Resurz by her shirt collar when she scoot backwards only slightly. "You're still an Eternal Guardian... just not a full fledged."
"Newb ended up just like me. His body deposited in the Underground of another universe. His soul is wandering around the host."
"And who is the host?" asked a young feminine voice from behind Zerrus. As she turned around, Zerrus spotted Cherry hovering over to their position.
"Cherry?" Zerrus called out. Cherry did not respond to her call, only narrowing her eyes towards Zerrus and Resurz and giving a curt nod. Sensing the message behind the look, she continued. "You don't actually know who the host is... do you?"
"Nah. Could be a monster. Could be a human. Could be anyone at the rate of magic alteration. I mean, look at you; your soul is fused with, not one... but two monster souls." Resurz pointed to her chest. "You still retain a human form despite that."
"So Sans isn't the only soul that was fused with the shell?"
Shaking her head, Resurz explained. "The first monster soul didn't take as strongly due to the fact that the monster wasn't of Boss level."
"Where do you suggest we go to locate the host?" Cherry inquired, her patience running thin.
"Somewhere a homicidal maniac would blend in perfectly." With that, Resurz vanished from their sights. Turning to face Cherry, Zerrus hesitated as Cherry's body slowly faded in the darkness of her dream state. Moving to reach out for her, she was blinded by a bright light.
Waking up with a start, Zerrus snorted slightly from the jarring experience of her dream. She found that one of her arms was securely pinned under Tech's ribcage, while the other was perched on her hip. Slowly wiggling her hand free from under his weight, she sat up and looked around the room. It appeared just as messy as the previous Sans' rooms were in each universe. The only difference was the amount of technology strewn about on the floor. Glancing down at him, Zerrus noted that Tech was snoring away while drooling slightly. Chuckling under her breath, she wiped off the spittle with her thumb and began thinking of a way to step out over him without waking him up.
While she HAD consumed some monster alcohol last night, it didn't seem to affect her, as she didn't have any signs of a hangover looming over her head. It appears that Tech, on the other hand, did not fare as well as she did. Completely coherent, she continued to stare forward and lose herself in a swarm of thoughts. The thoughts that sifted through her mind ranged from her newly discovered class identification, the information that she was a monster/human hybrid instead of human/pixie, the probable deception of Cahtke, and the resurfacing memories of being locked in a lab. The broken memories that had plagued her all those years ago were beginning to make sense to her.
It was a message.
After a while of thinking, she felt shifting movement to her right. Snapping her out of her thoughts, she glanced down to see Tech slowly rousing awake. His fuzzy eyelights were slowly focusing in the dim lighting of his room. "Morning, boneboy." Zerrus greeted, slowly turning to face him.
"mnn... mornin'..." he responded drowsily, moving to cuddle against her hip.
"Dude. What are you doing?"
"trying to sleep..."
"On my hip?"
"you're so soft..." Tech gripped her a bit tighter.
"No shit, Sherlock. I'm made of flesh and fat. Unlike you're boney ass..." she mumbled the last bit under her breath while rolling her eyes. "Come on. You need to get up."
"why?" he almost whined.
"For a few reasons. One: I need to run diagnostics on the machine in your basement. Two: Cherry needs to be returned to the Sacred Grove. Three: You're drooling on me." Zerrus placed her hand under his chin and lifted his head up off of her lap. His eyelights were still partially fuzzed, but it was apparent that he was indeed messing with her. His grin was straining and twitching, almost as if he was fighting exploding into laughter. "Four: There's something I need you to do."
His eyelights blinked to a full burn, his curiosity piqued. "what do you need?"
"I need you to promise me something..." Turning to face him fully, she took a deep breath. "Promise me... you'll forgive me for whatever I have to do."
"i'm...not sure what you're planning on doing. but i promise."
"Good." Wiggling out of the bed while gently pushing him aside, Zerrus stood up and stretched. "I'll be in the basement for a bit. I'll come and get you when the diagnostics are complete." Strolling out of the room and into the living room area of their house, she bent down and pulled her boots at the end of the couch. Autonomously sliding on her boots, she tapped the toe of her shoes against the floorboard and knocked them into place. Glancing out the front window, Zerrus observed a cascade of snow billowing from the sky and down over them. Frowning with a grimace, she summoned her soul inventory. Rummaging through the inventory mentally, she pulled a black jacket with a sewn in sweater out. Pulling the jacket on, she jumped at the sound of the steps creaking nearby.
"ZERRUS? WHERE ARE YOU GOING?" Papyrus inquired as he descended the steps.
"Just headed out to take care of something." Zerrus blankly responded, attempting to conceal the truth about the basement and the machine to Papyrus. "I'll be back soon. Don't hesitate to inform me of any problems regarding Cherry. Alright?"
As he nodded, she stepped out into the frigid cold and trot off towards the basement. Due to her short limbs, the snow almost completely engulfed her calves and made her trek towards the basement almost hilarious. Pulling open the door and rushing inside, she exhaled sharply and shook violently, shaking off traces of snow that piled on her from her short time outside. Stalking her way over to the machine, she powered up the giant metal tube and began running diagnostics. As she ran the program, she called up her inventory once more and took her glasses out.
Long ago, before she had encountered the Royal Courier near the Lavendar Coast, Zerrus was human. She wore glasses due to her poor vision, at the time. When her glasses were off, she could see the blurred outlines of her surroundings, but not the details. After a while, she had begun a life magic enfused diet. The diet increased her vision greatly, yet sometimes she still wore her glasses. It was almost theraputic to her. Gave her a sort of focal point when she worked. An added bonus was the air of intelligence the glasses projected from her when she wore it while working on a project.
Slipping the glasses on her face, she picked up a nearby clipboard and began jotting down necessary notes pertaining to the progress of the diagnostics. The primary startup sequence was running at an optimal speed... The core processors were running at peak efficiency...
"Uh oh." Zerrus muttered, narrowing her eyes slightly at the numbers that popped up on the display. "Scanner systems running at only a third of it's memory..." Moving to enter the repair sequence, she was caught off guard when the system jumped from a third to full power. "...that ain't normal."
Shaking her head and marking the Scanner Memory as 'Unstable - Unusual Startup', she moved on and continued with the remaining diagnostics. No other incident occured; until the ghost of Resurz slowly materialized behind her. Sensing the presence of someone standing behind her, she lifted her head slightly and turned it only a little. "Are you sure... that you want to go back?" Resurz questioned.
"The Sacred Grove has been my home for as long as I can remember. The outcroppings of these past memories makes my decision no different." Zerrus responded bluntly, her words dripping with ice. "The only thing that has changed is your actions. The repurcussions that she must endure. This was supposed to be a flawless mission. That all fell through the cracks when Cherry made an appearance in Hotland. It shouldn't have happened." She turned fully, her left eye ablaze. "Primarily because of you."
"Me? Or yourself?"
"Drop it." she growled, her voice rumbling dangerously. "I'm NOT you. Regardless of how I came to be, I was NEVER you." Dismissing her magic, she eased back from Resurz's spectral form. "Remember that." Turning back to the display, she quickly jotted down the information that had scrawled along it. The sound of very subtle movement inching towards her caused her to put the pen down and grip the clipboard tightly. "Earlier... you said that you SAVED Cherry's life. You cut off an outlet for magic flow."
"Yeah." Resurz answered.
"That means only one thing; that the Soul Render's abilities are primarily cast using physical contact with their hands. Am I correct?" Zerrus inquired, looking at her own hands almost longingly.
"Yup. Though the major aspects of a Soul Render's powers involve consuming the soul." She leaned forward with a grin etching onto her ghostly face. "You wanna know how to use your powers... don'tcha?"
"In time. But for now, I have business to attend to." Zerrus placed the clipboard down on the ground, glancing at the display now flashing a notifcation. She had seen the display so many times, knowing what the flashing green box meant. The diagnostics were complete and without further complications.
'I know that Tech will bring Cherry out immediately once I inform him of the diagnostics completion. She'll try to stop me from doing what needs to be done.' Zerrus thought, gazing in the direction of the Barrier. 'It needs to be linked... before I leave.' Closing the notification on the display, she took a deep breath as she keyed the auto-repair program. 'Let's hope that he keeps his promise.'
Placing her hand outwards, she broke open the thin fabric of reality. Stepping through the crack, she felt the gentle press of flowers under her boots. Glancing down, she identified golden flowers in a vast garden, spread before a large throne. Looking around the room, she spotted King Asgore, the ruler of the monsters, knelt and watering a patch of flowers. "One moment, please." He spoke over his shoulder, not even looking at Zerrus as she had just intruded into his throne room. Dribbling out a few more spurts of water over the plants, he turned around with his eyes closed with a wide smile. "Hello, Sans. What brings you-? Oh."
He had stopped mid-sentence when he opened his eyes and realized that the person standing before him was not Sans. "Hello, Your Majesty." Zerrus greeted with a slight bow. "I am sorry for the intrusion."
"It is no problem, young one. Please, relax." Asgore requested, Zerrus easing her stance and crossing her arms slightly over her chest. "Would you, perhaps, like a nice warm cup of golden flower tea?"
"That would be nice." Asgore smiled brightly, his eyes shining in equal to his smile, and gestured for her to follow. After a bit of walking, they entered through the basement of a quaint home. Following only a little bit more, she stood in the doorway of his living room and stared at the surroundings. The home was very similar to Toriel's, which was no coincidence considering her knowledge of the monsters from the Sacred Grove.
"The tea will take a moment, child. I hope you don't mind if I ask you a few questions." Asgore spoke from in the kitchen, poking his head out from the doorframe and looking at Zerrus.
"Ask whatever you want. I owe you that much seeing as how I had just popped into your throne room."
"It's no bother at all! Honestly! Please, have a seat." He pointed towards the couch to her left, drawing her attention to it and walking towards it with a slight shuffle. Planting herself in the soft cushions of the burnt orange couch, she watched as King Asgore disappeared back inside the kitchen. Moments later, he came out of the room with a platter holding 2 cups and a steaming kettle, a small sugar tin next to the kettle. "It's not often I get visitors."
"I would imagine so. Your Judge does a wonderful job in keeping threats from entering the throne room." She responded, crossing one leg over the other and resting her head on her hand. "Kinda doesn't help when one can teleport though."
"Ha ha! I would imagine not! I thought you were Sans until I saw you." He placed the platter in front of the two of them, smile as genuine as could be. "It seems that your journey has come to an end... no?" His smile dropped, his eyes darkened with sadness.
"Not quite." Zerrus answered quickly. "It shouldn't be any surprise to you, but I'm not any ordinary human. That should have been evident in my entrance. But I really don't mean any harm to you or any of the monsters here." She leaned forward to take a sip of the golden flower tea, catching a glance at Asgore's expression. It had swiftly changed from almost depression to glee. "I'm actually planning on taking down the Barrier... without the use of the human souls."
"How do you plan that? I've lived for hundreds of years, and nothing we have done has even affected the Barrier in the slightest!" His eyes had widened with evident shock. "Surely, it can't be that easy."
"It won't be. I've not told anyone about this, but the technique I use is actually a bit risky." She took a deep breath and locked eyes with the large, blonde haired goat monster. "Will you keep this technique between us? It'd be really bad if Sans learned about this."
"Of course, child. What is your technique? Just how dangerous is it to you?"
"Not deadly. But dangerous enough that it could affect my soul. The technique involves me forcefully merging my soul with the Barrier; a sort of link system. I will need to wait roughly 2 weeks before proceeding with the actually destruction of the Barrier. The reason for this extended wait is because I detonate my soul in a form of an explosion. My soul remains intact, but it could shatter if it has been forcefully merged recently."
"That is quite a form of soul magic. I don't think I have ever seen it before. May I... watch?" Asgore's eyes were practically gleeming with anticipation.
"I guess so... just stand at a safe distance from me. Never sure just how powerful the linkage will be."
Chapter 21: Halted
When your fears are correct... and things must stop.
"are you sure about this?" Tech asked, a hint of fear in his voice.
"I have no other choice. This person has done nothing but use me ever since merging my soul to the Sacred Grove's timeline. If she has that power, who knows just how dangerous she could be to others?" Zerrus responded, determination flashing in her eyes. "She's committed far too many sins to be left unattended."
"alright... i'll fire up the sequence. and zerrus?"
The light of the machine firing up engulfed both Cherry and Zerrus, the two of them wedged into a tight little chamber. Closing her eyes and muting her other senses, she waited for the light to dim before launching forward in a tackle. Her arms found purchase on her intended target, sliding the both of them towards the wall of her workshop before coming to a rough stop. "Cease your activities, E-417!" the voice shouted.
"Like... HELL!" Zerrus shouted back, the room becoming engulfed in her magic before spiraling herself and Cahtke into a deadly dance. "I know the truth about you... your soul included."
Cahtke's eyes widened for a moment, before breaking out into laughter. "Did Resurz really cloud your judgement that far? Or are you just THAT stupid?" Glaring heatedly at her, Zerrus snarled before moving to grab at Cahtke's soul. Her hand penetrated through her body, yet didn't draw blood. Pulling the darkened soul free from the confines of her chest, Zerrus chuckled darkly.
"Am I really that stupid? Or are you that DELUDED?" She kicked back, knocking Zerrus off of her and sending her soul plummeting back into her body. "Your soul is TAINTED. Tainted by a corruption that she sacrificed herself to destroy. Clearly she failed, but I'M going to remedy that failure!" Snapping her fingers, a wolf-like skull hovered behind Zerrus. Cahtke shrunk back. "You know what this means... don't you? You never expected me to learn the truth."
She leaned in closer to her ear.
"Let alone... enact upon my knowledge." Cahtke screamed in a combination of fear and rage, pushing Zerrus back forcefully and causing her to stagger. Quickly regaining her composure, she aimed the blaster at Cahtke's soul. "Only by cleansing the soul... can one be remedied of all sins."
"Hmph. Then by that logic, this should be no consequence to you." She snapped her fingers, an earth-shattering boom echoing around them.
"What the fuck?!" Zerrus shot her attention towards the outside of the workshop, completely losing her focus on Cahtke. "Cherry! Bash down the door and see what's going on out there!"
"Got it, mom!" Cherry replied, charging forward with her shoulder plate tilted towards the fragile wooden door of the shack. Smashing open the door, she staggered violently as the vibrations of the ground beneath her rocked her entire frame. Widening her stance to maintain her posture, she watched in horror as a sickly purple beam rained down from above their position. "Is that... magic?!"
Zerrus charged out moments later, panting hard. "Cahtke dove into the machine... disappeared into another timeline." When her eyes locked onto the beam firing on the planet, she froze. "I know this magic." she mumbled under her breath, realization dawning upon her. "We gotta move!" Nodding to her, Cherry and Zerrus both pounced away from the devastating magic that was clearly destroying the earth under their feet.
Grabbing her phone from her inventory and hitting her speed dial, she and Cherry continued running as fast as their legs could take them. After a few rings, they finally answered. "kid? what's going on-?"
"No time to explain! I need you to evacuate Sanctuary! NOW!" Zerrus shouted, opening the passenger seat of her blue car and shoving Cherry inside. "Rendevouz with the rest of the team and get everyone OUT of here!"
"what about you?" Sans's voice was laced with anxiety, which wasn't lost on her. But one of them had to stay determined.
"Don't worry about me! Just get everyone to the central warp stone! Get them the HELL outta Sanctuary! I don't care WHERE they end up, just anywhere but here!" Hanging up the call, she jumped into the driver's seat and floored it. "This is gonna be rough! Watch your ass!" Zerrus shouted to Cherry, who was anchored as effectively as she could without a seatbelt and her arms.
Leaning her head out the window slightly, Cherry watched as the purple beam seemed to just burn towards them. "I'll see what I can do about stalling the beam!" Cherry's right eye lit up with firey red magic, mystic chains lashing out from behind the car and forming a sort of wall. It seemed to stop its trail of destruction for a moment, before it cut through and exploded fragments of the pavement and dirt upon connection. "Chains have no effect!"
"What about your wind?" Zerrus turned the wheel sharply to the right, the car swerving and narrowly smashing into a stone wall. "We gotta do something or we'll end up as a flambe!"
"I'll try." Focusing all her attention on manipulating the wind that was around them, she felt a surge of power rush through her. Channeling that wind towards the beam, she watched as the wind warped the beam's concentrated firing. Raw energy fired in every direction, carving paths every which way. One stray beam crossed in front of their car, causing Zerrus to shout and slam on her brakes. The sudden stop caused Cherry to lurch in her seat, knocking whatever breath she was holding on to and almost slamming her head into the dashboard. "No good. The wind only forced the laser to discharge everywhere it touched."
"SHIT!" Zerrus screamed, as the beam approached them even faster. "It was worth a good try!" Stepping on the gas, her car shot forward, just as the magic burned over where they were just sitting. "That was FAR too close! Status?"
Cherry narrowed her eyes, her inherited soul magic burning into the essence of the beam that was currently destroying Sanctuary. "I can't get a solid read! It's all just garbled data!"
"Garbled data?" Zerrus shook her head, opting against thinking about what it could mean and instead focusing on her driving her and Cherry to safety. A sharp ringing in her ears almost caused her to crash into a parked truck. Regaining her wit and clenching her teeth, she huffed sharply as the ringing intensified. "Continue trying to read what that data is. Record it somehow if you can!" She cut the wheel to the left, turning down a narrow alleyway. "This can't be happening...!"
"What is it, mom?" Cherry barked out, her eyes still locked onto the murky purple laser that was burning through the earth.
"If my suspicions are correct, this magic is Gloam magic." Zerrus bluntly explained, her car smashing over a couple of trash cans. "If Cahtke has access to this magic, Lord knows what she'll do with it!" After racing out of the alley, she smirked as the sight of the exit to Sanctuary came into view. "Hold on!" she yelled as she slammed her foot on the gas, the car lurching forward and towards the exit.
A sudden stopping force slammed behind the car, causing the car to flip forward and crash into the ground outside of the magic barrier that protected the city. Completely upside down in the vehicle, Zerrus groaned and looked towards Cherry. Despite being stuck upside down, she showed no signs of injury. Helping push Cherry rightside up, Zerrus and Cherry both wiggled out of the flipped vehicle. Their balance was knocked off balance from the sudden stop and the flip, but they still stood on both their feet. Looking back at the city, Zerrus's eyes widened and teared up, the utter destruction of the city was palpable. Buildings destroyed, mottled to decay, briars the size of trees sprouting from the ground and winding around the wreckage of the place they called home.
The spectral form of Resurz crawled out from Zerrus's body, hovering behind her and staring at the destruction. "This is unbelievable..." she mumbled, the pulses from her partial soul sending waves of anger and sadness through the air around them. Zerrus looked over to Resurz, equally as distraut from the damage, then shook her head. "How did you know it was her?"
"She's been deceptive from the start. I just followed my gut instinct." she responded, looking back to the city. "But... for her to do this?" She shuddered violently as the thoughts of the damage spreading from Sanctuary to the other parts of the Sacred Grove. "I just- I don't know what to do."
Resurz's grin stretched to a maniacal smirk, her eyes bleeding red wisps of energy. "You'll have to kill her."
Cherry and Zerrus shot their attention to the spectral ghost. The thought of taking another life was hard to swallow, but in sight of the circumstances they may have no choice. Gulping hard, Zerrus brought up her rifle and looked through the sight. With the added scope to her weapon, she was able to get a glance at the destroyed city. What she was looking for were signs of any survivors within the city limits. Heaving a sigh of relief, she lowered the barrel of her rifle and wiped a bead of sweat from her brow. "The others were evacuated. No signs of any victims." she announced, turning her body towards Cherry.
"What about the damages?" she asked.
"Let me check in depth." Bringing the rifle back up, she zoomed the scope further to look deep in the city. She could see the scorch marks where her car was being chased. The destruction in the path was immense. A few houses were leveled entirely, rubble and kicked up dirt and grass littering the roads. Scanning the terrain where the beam had touched down, her breath hitched when her scope leveled on the Royal Palace. The Great Tree was burning a dark fire. Upon closer inspection, she noted several moving figures around the base of the Tree. "Jesus..."
"What? What is it?" Cherry panicked slightly, taking a single step towards her mother as she shook with intense emotions.
"I was wrong. There were victims..." Zerrus started, her voice shaking dangerously. "The Royal Guard that helped in the evacuation- they've been transformed."
"Into the shambling creatures that were once feral... they've become decrepid Changelings." Her knees giving out from under her, Zerrus hit the ground in a heap, her rifle dispelling and causing her to slump forward unto her hands. "I- I was right... the Council Wars have begun once more..."
The intense ringing in her ears returned once more, her face scrunching up in discomfort. "Do you understand now? The price you have to pay for your ignorance?" echoed a familiar voice in her skull. Gripping her head with one hand, Zerrus felt hot tears run down her face and splash onto the back of her hand. "Despite all your struggles, you still fail."
"No... NO! I won't let this happen!" Her soul burst out with a bright red light, everything around her pulsing from the wave of energy. Shocked by the power of the burst her soul spat out, Zerrus looked down at her chest. The once blue and red soul was now completely engulfed by the Determination trait. Struggling to catch her breath, she looked around to see everything around her stop moving and slowly began dissolving.
'No! I made a promise! I won't RESET!'
In a burst of white, everything stopped dissolving. Her vision darkened, her body sending her flying into a blinding white zone. Landing in a heap, she rolled over onto her hands and knees. Her eyes widened as she noted stark white bones, instead of pale white skin. "What the hell?" she muttered, picking herself off the floor and looking around the whire void. "Error? You there?"
On cue to her call, Error popped in front of her. "yOu ReSeT." he spoke matter-of-factly.
"No! No, I didn't mean-!"
"i KnOw. YoU cAnCeLlEd It MiD-rEsEt. TiMe Is InExIsTaNt NoW." He circled around her, looking up and down her body. "yOu AlSo WaRpEd YoUr SoUl."
"So I've noticed." Zerrus grumbled, calling forth her soul and grimacing. Her soul was no longer engulfed in red, nor was it rightside up. Her soul was back to its normal coloration, but it was clear to her that she now posessed a monster soul with human traits. "Great. Just freakin great." Putting her soul back in her chest, she grimaced at the sight of her hands once more. "How exactly do I look?"
"LiKe A sKeLeToN... wItH a TaIl."
Chapter 22: Lithos
What can be done?
Popping back into her universe, she glanced around the environment. Everything was still, with a slight bustling of leaves from the breeze. This was good. It meant that her failed reset didn't damage the world. Glancing down at her feet, she spotted a small puddle. In the reflection from the water, she could clearly see what she looked like. Cartoonish round skull, blueish white eyelights that almost filled her sockets, a malleable grin which was turned downwards in a blank expression. Upon closer inspection, she noted that there were faint wisps of magic on the top of her skull, styled in the way her hair once was, little blue wolf ears formed from the wisps on the top. On her cheek was that oh-so-familiar magic mark, glowing a fierce light of bright blue. Frowning evidently, she fished out her black jacket from her inventory and put it on, throwing up the hood to conceal her face. Tucking her tail gingerly under her shirt and pulling it down, she sighed.
"This is just perfect..." Zerrus grumbled under her breath. The sound of someone crunching on some leaves nearby caused her to whip around. Hands held slightly outwards in the event she needed to call out her magic, she scanned the area. The faint trace of someone nearby seemingly drew her closer to the source. Standing against a tree, reclined against the bark, was some sort of canine like monster. Upon closer inspection, it was a sergal canine-like monster. He wore a pair of steampunk goggles on the top of his head, a black tank top, a pair of cargo pants, and a pair of white fingerless gloves. Without even looking in her direction, he spoke.
"You did this... didn't you?" he called out to her. Stiffening at the accusation, she looked over the horizon, in the same direction he was staring out at. From this vantage point, one could easily see the destruction on Sanctuary. Sickly purple engulfing the entire city, briars growing out from the ground and wrapping around anything near it. It was utter chaos within Sanctuary.
"I didn't do ANYTHING." she defended, her fists clenching. Brandishing a small knife, the sergal aimed the blade towards her. Evidently, this individual was not having her answer as fact. "Look, will you let me explain myself?"
"You can try." He responded, the knife still held at point with her torso.
After taking a while explaining everything that had happened within Sanctuary, the sergal lowered their knife, flipping it in his hand and stuffing it into a sheath. "So? You understand? If I was really that much of a threat, I could have easily commandered your weapons and killed you with them."
"Vertigo." he spoke suddenly, turning his attention from her and looking over the horizon.
"My name." He pushed off from the bark, his stance stiff as he took a final glance in the direction of the ruins. "Do you really think you can stop this?" He gestured his hand towards the ruins, then turned fully to face her. Looking down at her feet, she scrunched up her face.
"I don't have any other choice. I'm the one who is responsible for this senseless deformation." She locked eyes with Vertigo. "I'm going to be the one to make this right." As she turned to head down the hillside and towards her flipped car, she was stopped by a big furry hand clamping down on her forearm. "This doesn't concern you any further than what I have said. You don't need to risk your life for-"
"I insist. This is something one person can't handle alone. You're going to need all the help you can get."
"Why do people insist on throwing themselves in the way of danger?" Zerrus groaned in exasperation, running her hands through her phantasmal hair and tugging slightly on the ears under her hood. "Fine. I'll allow this... but just know this: things are about to get really hairy."
As they trudged down the hill and approached the downed vehicle, they watched with wide eyes as a set of chains wound around the car and pulled it rightside up. Stepping out from behind the vehicle, Cherry examined the frame. Her eyes fell on Zerrus and Vertigo, immediately stepping forward. "There you are. What happened back there?" Cherry called out.
"Soul mishap. Nothing seious." she answered quickly in an attempt to disarm any further questioning. "Anything happen out here?"
"No. Nothing new." She answered, moving to summon a tiny chain to open the passenger side door. "We need to rendevouz with the others. Yonk called... but I couldn't answer the phone."
"Alright. One moment then." Zerrus responded, fishing out her phone and speed dialing Sans. Within the first 2 rings, he answered imemdiately. "Good, you're safe. I need to ask you something; where did you end up?"
"the sign says shrouded glade. lotta pixies here." Sans responded, sounding slightly winded and panicked.
"Druids, actually. Are the others there with you?"
"not everyone. yonk isn't here. he called me and said he would be calling you guys, but you didn't answer." A slight pause. "what did you do?"
"Later." She bluntly replied, ending the call and turning towards Vertigo. "Yo Vertigo? You said you wanted to help, right?" A nod. "Good. Cause we're going to be saving the world."
After a long, quiet drive towards Shrouded Glade, Zerrus stepped out of the car and slammed her door shut and moved to let Cherry out. Vertigo stepped in front of her, placing a large hand across her chest and stopping her. "You've been avoiding letting her see your face." he stated matter of factly. Her eyesockets widened at his observation. "I'll get her out of the car. You just lead the way."
"Thanks." Looking over her shoulder, she spotted a familiar group of friends, scurrying around the field nearby in slight panic. Moving in a slight jog, she skid to a stop as Papyrus came barreling towards her.
"ZERRUS! YOU'RE SAFE!" he cried, tears streaming down his face as he scooped her up, swinging her from side to side in a tight hug. "I WAS SO SCARED!"
"I know, Papyrus... Don't worry. She won't get away with this." she responded as calmly as possible, moving to slide out of his deathgrip and to the grassy field below her. She looked past Papyrus and locked eyelights with Sans, her gaze immediately dropping to the ground and on a flower her foot just so happened to be next to. "I'm having a hard time trying to understand all of this myself... but the fact of the matter is that this has fallen into our hands. We need to resolve this."
"Why's that?" Faliko inquired, her hands gripping the front of her shirt tightly.
"Because we're the Eternal Guardians. The holy warriors of the Gleam Council." She looked up from the flower only to find Sans right in her face, causing her to reel back with a sharp gasp. Grabbing her hands to keep her from backing away too far, he kept her pinned to the spot she was standing on. "U-Uh..."
Sans leaned forward, his breath ghosting over the side of her skull. "you never answered my question earlier." Whipping her head away from where his still questionable breath had just ghosted over her phantom ear, she glared at him. "we'll talk later... when we have more privacy."
"Way to make that sound creepier than it needed to be, dude." Zerrus grumbled under her breath, rubbing her face with one of her hands and pinching between her eyes for a second. "Here's the situation; Cahtke has escaped to an unknown universe. She dove into the machine in my workshop just before that magic destroyed Sanctuary. Well... 'destroyed' isn't the right word to use."
"The magic was a sort of garbled data. I spent the time during our trip here trying to decipher the data I collected through my clip." Cherry stepped forward, shouldering Zerrus slightly and tilting her head towards Sans. "The data was, at best, corrupted. Which makes sense according to what mom and Vertigo told me."
"The very land that surrounds Sanctuary has been corrupted itself- warped into a land of desication and despair." Vertigo bluntly explained, crossing his arms and looking down at Zerrus. "Your friend here appeared outta nowhere. I can sense that she really means no harm to me or to others. But-"
"she really wants to kill cahtke for what she did." Sans shrugged evidently. "not like i can blame ya. but the problem is, she didn't hurt anyone. everyone was evacua-"
"No." Zerrus interrupted, her gaze shooting up towards his eye level and her eyelights pulsing a wisping smoke. "I looked through the scope of my rifle. While we did evacuate MOST of the civilians, there are victims of the attack." Summoning her rifle, she thumbed at the side of the scope until a small memory card popped free. "You can clearly see members of the Royal Guard as well as citizens that were left inside the city. They didn't make it out in time." She handed the chip towards Sans, who handed it to Alphys. "The corruption is a form of Gloam magic. An ancient form at that. Similar to the tales in the Memorial Caverns that were depicted."
"Mom is right. The Council Wars have started again. But... who are the other members of the Gloam Council?" Cherry mused loudly.
"Well, let's think about it. Who are your enemies?" Vertigo asked, uncurling his arms and kneeling into the dirt and grabbing a stick.
"Cahtke is clearly the mastermind of the Council." Faliko spoke, Vertigo nodding and etching 'Cahtke' into the dirt.
"HAM had been giving us problems in the past, but I really don't think they're smart enough to know how to use Gloam magic... nor are they dumb enough to try." Kro muttered, sitting in the grass and placing a hand under his chin. "But who knows? Maybe they ARE involved?"
"We can't rule anything out unless we know for sure." Vertigo confirmed, writing the anagram 'HAM' in the dirt. "What intel do you have on these guys?"
"Uhh..." Everyone looked between each other, shrugging and shifting uneasily as Vertigo's eyes bore into each and every one of them. Dat stepped forward, his tail flicking a bit in aggrivation. "We don't really have much in the way of intel on them. They're movements are so random that we can't even track them down."
"What about that punk Torrence?" Undyne spoke, taking a step towards Zerrus and Vertigo. "He's in HAM. He might be able to help us figure out what they're up to. All we gotta do is find him and get some answers outta him."
A loud crash of thunder boomed, Zerrus jumping and falling backwards onto her butt with a squeak. Shuffling backwards hastily she looked up in time to see Yonk hovering down to the ground with his devices. The wind that kicked up blew her hood back, her phantasmal ears quick to flop downwards to keep the wind from blowing inside her ears. When she looked back up, she was met with a wide variety of stares. "I... can explain." Pushing herself off of the grass, she stood up and felt the brush of her tail as it slipped loose from under her shirt. "I made a mistake. And now I'm paying the price for it. I'm still the same Zerrus... just..."
The feeling of someone checking her washed over her, causing her to flinch back slightly. "hard to really call you zerrus when you are a skeleton monster now." Sans remarked, his eyelights roaming her body. Her tail went stiff and her ears shot upright. "but this might work out in our favor."
"Eh?" she grunted, cocking her head slightly.
"HAM was looking for you for years. They still remember what you look like even though you were gone for so long." Yonk began, shaking his hands slightly as excess lightning magic sparked off his fingertips. "With you looking like this, you might pass off as someone BESIDES Zerrus Teknianu."
"Are you telling me... I'm going to have to adopt a new identity until I fix this?"
"Sounds like it." Faliko added with a shy nod. "But... this means that you're safe!"
"I guess." Zerrus shifted her weight to one foot and stared up towards the sky, the mixture of magic and the sunset making the sky a deep purple and blue with sparkles. The sound of approaching footsteps with an elegant gait drew her gaze downward for a second. "Dr. Gaster?"
"I may have a suggestion for your situation." Dr. Gaster offered as he stepped closer to her and placed both his hand on her shoulders. "I would like to adopt you into our family." Her eyes widened for a moment, stepping back from his grip for a second and glancing over to Sans. "Only for a temporary solution of course."
"I'M GOING TO BE GETTING A SISTER?" Papyrus almost whimpered. He squealed loudly, hopping excitedly as he scooped up Zerrus into another tight hug. "A SISTER!"
"BRAAAGHH!! Why?! Please stop jumping!" she shrieked as Papyrus kept bouncing in joy with her in tow. He stopped bouncing, her tail slumping and tucking between her legs instinctively. "Thank you. So, what did you have in mind? A name... I mean?"
"Hmm..." Dr. Gaster leaned forward, gently lifting her chin up with his fingers to get a better look at her face. His thumb brushed the mark on her cheek and his other hand gently pulled at her phantom hair. "How about... Lithos?"
"Is... is it common for skeletons to be named after fonts?" she stuttered, looking over to Sans. He shrugged with a slight chuckle and Papyrus giggled with glee. "I guess it is. Alright. Lithos it is."
Chapter 23: Royal Council
Even through singing, one can feel powerful.
She stared into the mirror of her summer home bathroom. Her eyelights danced slightly in her sockets as she continued to take in the situation she was placed in. They had evacuated Sanctuary after Cahtke had cast down Gloam magic and warped the land into desolation, many of the survivors scattered across the Grove. A vast majority of the survivors ended up in Seaside- the beach town, or Snowhill- the village of eternal snow. Others ended up in smaller settlements such as Wuggachug, Merry Vale, and a very few in Shrouded Glade. After having rendevouz'd with the rest of the group, Zerrus- now known as Lithos Snowdin, led the group to her summer home that was located in Lakeshore. It was a large home that wrapped around the trunk of a great tree, submerged in a lake. The house was large enough to house everyone in their group, plus a few extra stragglers who happen to find the house and seek assistance.
Being the commander of the Royal Guard, Lithos can't turn down survivors who find her. It's her sworn duty to protect the Grove and her people.
A knock on the bathroom door stole her attention, her eyelights moving over to the door and almost seeing through it. "hey zer- uhh... lithos? you in there?" called out the hesitant voice of Sans.
"Yeah." she responded, opening the bathroom door and catching him off guard. "What is it?"
"i noticed that you've been very quiet lately. even going so far as to avoiding us. is something wrong?"
Her eyelights guttered out and her browbones furrowed. "Kind of a dumb question there." She slid by him, leaving the bathroom and moving towards the staircase. "You know what's bothering me, Sans. Why even bother ASKING me what's bugging me?" She turned her head towards him slightly. "Don't bother following me."
Stepping out onto the sundeck, Lithos heaved a deep sigh as she looked out at the water in the lake below her. "Darling~ you seem to be down." cooed a voice from behind her. Whipping around hastily, she staggered back as her tail bumped into the railing. Her eyes fell upon a familiar robot- Mettaton. "You should be honest with yourself, rather than hide your true feelings, sweetheart~"
"Hide my true feelings...?" she chuckled slightly under her breath. "I'm as honest as I can be right now. You want to know what I'm feeling?" Mettaton cocked his head with a smirk and a glint in his eyes. "I'm pissed." Lithos growled, her magic spiking and the ectoplasmic fur fluffing outward. "Pissed about THIS... This goddamn situation! I trusted Cahtke! And that trust was spat on!" She swung around and gripped the railing tightly, the wood cracking slightly. "I'm pissed about this... body! This shouldn't have happened!" She felt hot magic dripping down the side of her face. "I'm pissed about everything..."
"Is that all you are feeling? Anger?" inquired a soft voice. Lithos lifted her head, turning to look over her shoulder to see Queen Valerian.
"Milady..." She was quick to turn and kneel into a bow, her gaze quick to catch on to an audience behind her. "I apologize for my outburst."
"You do not need to apologize, Rainbow Wind. Your emotions are apt. We are all angered at this situation we are in." She hovered forward, landing on the ground and placing her small hand on Lithos's cheek. "However, we have faith in you."
"But... Milady? How can anyone have faith in someone who has let them down in more ways than one?"
Queen Valerian chuckled under her breath, placing her hands on her shoulders and smiling. "Do you wish to know a secret?" Lithos looked up into her big blue eyes. "Whenever I feel anger or despair, I sing. The magic of the earth will wind around you and bless you with the powers inside."
"Sing?" She looked down at the wooden planks under them. "I... don't really sing. I'm embarrassed."
"no one will judge you, kid." Sans spoke out, stepping up to her and kneeling. "go on."
Lithos pushed herself up to her feet and stepped back towards the banister. The everlooming darkness that encroached upon Sanctuary from the attack could be seen just over the mountaintops of the summer home. She could almost hear the sound of music echoing in her soul. Was this the power of the earth that Queen Valerian was talking about?
"Taken way too soon I'm not at all what used to be... shifting in a box, the past is nothing more than just a dream." She took a step towards the darkened sky, the sound of the music intensifying. "Now I hear the call of evil growing once again." She felt tears prick her eyes slightly as she remembered the victims who were still inside Sanctuary. "I'm powerless to change your fate... but in the end I'll shelter you, my friends." She sang as she turned towards her friends.
"Tonight we roam. And if they listen really close, they can hear us sing our song." A chorus of hums rang out. She turned towards the sky. "And I can't give you back the things you had, but you don't have to do this on your own! Even if you're never coming home. You're not alone! You're not alone!" Her words began to echo on their own, seemingly being sung outwards by another voice. "You're not alone!" As the music continued to intensify, everyone could hear the sound of the humming, and the flowers of the lilypads light up in beat with the music.
"In our own little world, forever lost to passing time. Noone knows what it's like to wear a mask that you are trapped inside." Her eyes narrowed on the clouds that swirled above Sanctuary and edged just over the mountains. "One day the purple clouds that hover over us will fade. Then we'll be free to cut the strings, to wipe the tears but now we walk in chains."
"Tonight we roam. And if they listen really close, they can hear us sing our song." The chorus sang out again. "And I can't give you back the things you had, but you don't have to do this on your own! Even if you're never coming home. You're not alone! You're not alone!" Everyone gathered around Lithos as she continued to sing her verse.
"You're not alone!" everyone sang together, the lilypads lighting up even brighter. Everyone links arms as the flowers continued their rhythmic dance of lights. The music dying down and the purple clouds that were slowly reaching out receeding from them.
"That was such a powerful song, Rainbow Wind." Queen Valerian commented with a nod. "I can feel the magic of the earth coursing through my body."
"Yeah. Feels a little weird, to be honest. But not bad." Yonk remarked with a slight shimmy of his arms.
"Mom. This power could be dangerous." Cherry spoke, stepping closer to Lithos with slight uncertainty. "If Cahtke learns of this ability, she may use this to her advantage. Think about it; the power we're feeling now may feel good to us... but if Cahtke uses it and combines it with her magic?"
"That's... a good point. Milady, is it possible for Cahtke to use the power of the Grove to increase her power?" Dat asked.
"I am unsure. This is a power that is vastly unknown to many scholars." Queen Valerian cupped her hands and chewed her bottom lip nervously. "Do you know where she may be?"
"Unfortunately, no. She pulled a fast one on all of us. Dove into another universe, and attacked Sanctuary at the same time. She played one of the oldest tricks in the book." Kro grumbled a bit. "If she had only dove into a universe, we could've tracked her whereabouts easily using Lithos's machine in her wokshop."
"But she destroyed it when she attacked the city." Lithos continued. "Which is why we're going to have to rely on our force alone to stop her. We can't predict when she'll turn up again- let alone where. But what we do know is that she WILL return eventually. She HAS to."
"What do you mean, Rainbow Wind?" Queen Valerian asked.
"During my interdimensional travels, I learned a valuable lesson. Being separated from Life Magic for too long is taxing on the soul. Take me as an example. I am no longer Zerrus Teknianu, yet you still recognized me as Rainbow Wind. Tell me... how did you recognize me, Milady?"
"There are many secrets the Sacred Grove can teach oneself. But it is up to that individual to listen to those secrets to learn them." She placed her hand on Lithos sternum, a calming warm tingle being sent through her bones. "Your soul has a unique signature. No matter what you look like, you are still you." She turned to face the monsters who were clustered into a small group. "It is partly the reason I welcomed you back into our society after your meaningless exile."
"you could sense our souls. sense that we meant no harm to your people..." Sans muttered.
"Correct. While some of the residents of the Grove do not agree with my decision nor the ideals of harmless monsters, I know that they will come around." She turned towards Vertigo, who was perched up on the trunk of the tree with a rifle out and looking through the scope. His golden eye seemed to glow in the darkness of the night, giving him an air of power. "Your companion there. Who is he?"
Lithos turned and spotted Vertigo, lowering his rifle for a moment at the mention of him. "His name is Vertigo. I'm not entirely sure where he came from." She turned back to face the Queen and the others. "But I trust him."
"Rightfully so. I can sense a great power within him. One that binds him with the rest of you." The sound of someone sharply inhaling caused everyone to jerk towards the source, only to find Vertigo hastily moving to bring his rifle to bear.
"Milady, get inside!" Lithos shouted, shifting into a combat stance as a rumbling of the earth shook the foundation of the house. When Lithos looked back up she saw Vertigo tumbling down the side of the trunk, his claws reaching out to stop his descent. Yonk shot forward and slammed into him, sending them both falling towards the deck and landing with a loud thud. Rushing over to see if her companions were alright, she was caught entirely off guard as a purple stone whipped by her skull. Staggering backwards, she watched in horror as a Gloam Construct emerged from behind the mountain pass that fed to her home. "Well shit! This isn't good."
Her blade materialized in her hand, shimmering with bright magic. "We already beat 2 of these things. We can do it again." Cherry encouraged, stepping forward and closing her eyes. Red and violet magic wrapped around her and encased her body with mystic fire. Bursting outward were two familiars, one of which Lithos recognized immediately. It was a red orb with a blue target pattern in the center; Opi the optical orb. The other was a spectral wolf with flaming red fur and piercing blue eyes. "STRIKE!" she shouted, as she tilted her body backwards and dashed behind the orb.
The wolf howled and bounded off the side of the building, dashing towards the construct while Opi hovered close to Cherry. A whirring sound emanated from Opi as magic condensed in its core. "Charging." Cherry narrowed her eyes and glanced towards Undyne, Sans, and Papyrus. "Cover the Queen." She looked over to Faliko who was standing uneasily with her mace and shield. "We're not letting this thing get any closer."
"Vertigo, Yonk, Dat- take the high ground and crack open this thing's shell." Lithos ordered, stepping to Cherry's side and gripping the handle of her sword tighter. "I'll cover you while you charge the attack."
The Construct roared loudly, the structure under their feet vibrating with its intensity. Faliko squeaked slightly as she cast a shielding spell on the building, the vibrating easing off slightly. A couple of Royal Guard soldiers ran up the steps and brandished their weapons, each one sweating profusely. "Stay calm, soldiers! The Queen is in safe hands. Our only concern is-"
Lithos was interrupted by a bolt of bright blue that shot by them and smashed into the Construct. The giant stone creature convulsed for a moment before falling over onto its back. The blue spot stayed where it was for a moment, turning slightly to look up at the group. They waved almost nervously and then pointed to the creature that was slowly moving under them. "I... I think they want to help us." Faliko stuttered in bewilderment. Everyone shifted a bit, then nodded to the silent request. "I-If you think you can help, we'll gladly accept!"
A nod from the blue figure and then the Construct stood up, slowly sliding them off with an almost angered expression on its face. The little blue figure danced around its feet as Cherry's wolf familiar pounced onto the giant's shoulder. Lithos focused her energy into calling forth a blaster, only to feel a sharp pain in her chest. Staggering forward slightly, she struggled to catch her breath as the small blue figure was thrown up onto the deck. Landing harshly on their butt, they shook their head rapidly and pushed themselves back to their feet. Upon seeing their unexpected guest up close, Lithos noticed that they were some sort of monster. A pitch black face with brilliant bright blue eyes glowing under a bent steepled hat. They were wearing a sort of trench coat that tied off in the front, a pair of grey baggy pants, and black shoes.
They clamped their hands into tiny fists and to their chest, an aura of magic condensing inward towards their body. Jumping over the railing of the deck, the small monster dashed at the stone giant. The Construct merely backhanded the monster in mid-air, sending them flying back towards the tree trunk. Sensing this, Vertigo's ears perked up momentarily. Kicking off the branch he was perching upon, he outstretched his arms in an attempt to grab the small monster. Grabbing the back of their coat, Vertigo and the monster gently fell onto the base of the tree. Looking up at him with wide eyes, they nodded and pushed off of him. Holding their arms outwards at their sides, they bobbed in place as everyone assaulted the giant stone creature that threatened their safe haven.
A red aura of clouds slowly grew around the small mountain valley. Glancing up to the sky, Lithos spotted what looked like a meteor coming down. Bumping Cherry and placing her skeletal hand on Opi, she canceled her summons as the chunk of rock slammed into the Gloam. Roaring outward, the creature exploded in a collection of purple stone and energy. Everyone eased off their positions and turned to face the shadowy monster that had appeared from nowhere. "Well... that was something alright. You did that didn't you?" Lithos spoke calmly, crouching down to be face-to-face with the tiny monster.
"Y-Yeah." they replied in a soft voice.
"So you CAN speak. What's your name, kid?"
"Mippi..." They shifted uneasily away from Vertigo, who had stepped closer to them. "M-My name is Mippi."
"Mippi... hmm. Didn't know you had such power hidden in that soft little face of yours." She placed a gentle hand on their shoulder, gauging their reaction as they glanced over to her hand and then back to her face. "What brought you here? Was it the Royal Guard's message to survivors of the attack?"
"Y-Yes. I wanted to be of some use to you. I probably got in the way..."
"Don't be ridiculous! You just saved us a lot of trouble! Are you alright though? You took quite a hit back there."
"I-I'm fine. I'm used to this."
Lithos's eyelights guttered out. "Used to this?" She shook her head rapidly, trying to jar any terrible thoughts about what Mippi had gone through. The sound of the air tearing behind her multiple times stole her attention for a brief moment, her head perking up slightly. "How'd you get here? The machine was destroyed."
"error brought us here. said that you needed help." spoke a familiar gruff voice, the attitude exhibiting an air of slight negativity. Turning her head, she spotted Red, Paps, and Lust standing uneasily as they eyed the downed Construct. Sitting on one of the high tree limbs was Error, his gaze never leaving Lithos. "he didn't mention anything about you being a cute little skeleton though."
"Because it is irrelevant to our current predicament." she shot back. Immediately jumping up to the high branch, she perched on the limb and glared at Error. "Why? Why are you here? You have no reason to intervene with this."
"YoU'rE mY sOuLmAtE. yOuR wOrLd Is In DaNgEr." he calmly spoke, glancing over to the Construct. "We WiLl Be StAyInG hErE wItH yOu. Is ThErE a PrObLeM wItH tHaT?"
"...No. There are plenty of rooms avaliable for use. Take your picks. We'll be discussing our next move tomorrow." She grabbed his hoodie sleeve and tugged twice. "In the meantime, we need to replenish our magic reserves. Best get yourself your acquainted with being around people if you're going to be helping."
Chapter 24: Bone Appetit
Even monsters have to eat.
This is a legitimate recipe in the story, keep an eye out for it. Maybe you can try it yourself.
Lithos passed through the wide halls over the home, some of the guards making occasional rounds through the home and checking the stability of the structure from future attacks by the Gloam. After having Mippi appear from nowhere and help bring down the Construct that had located their base, there has to be another attack. But she knew that the problem would come when it would come and there is no reason to fret over the inevitable. If they could bring them down before, they can do it again. With that in mind, she was on her way to the dining area of the home. One can't fight on an empty stomach.
As she neared the room, she heard the telltale sound of her soulmates chattering with each other.
"when were you gonna tell us about this, man?" Red growled out. Lithos paused and pressed her back against the wall, holding her breath and listening in.
"i just found out about this. she's the one who chose to hide it." Sans replied with a calm demeanor.
"and ya think that makes it any better?! you've known her the longest. you shoulda known something was up when she-"
"shut up will you, red?" spoke out Paps. The sound of a lighter flicking a few times and the faint smell of cigarette smoke filtered through the room. "the kid has her reasons for withholding information. have you told her everything about yourself?"
Silence filled the room. She narrowed her eyes and rubbed her skull.
"she has no reason to know about that." Red finally spoke in a whisper. "we're all the same person. we all share the same sins." The sound of clothing shuffling close to her position caused her to freeze in place. "even some extra sins."
"like eavesdropping?" spoke a cocky voice as a pressure wound around her body and slowly lifted her off the ground. Lithos was pulled into the room and dropped in front of the group of skeletons. Bouncing off the wood slightly, she leaned over and rubbed at her tail with a hiss. When she looked over her shoulder, Lust was winking at her and wagging a finger coated in purple magic at her. "come on, kid. if you wanted to listen you could have just walked in."
"Didn't feel like I had the right to. You guys were talking about some pretty sensitive stuff. Didn't want to intrude." she replied, pushing herself to her feet and dusting off the butt of her pants. She drifted her gaze towards Red, his words echoing in her skull. "You know... it's true there are some sins that we all have committed. But if you can forgive yourself for it and the reasoning is apt, doesn't that make the pain less piercing?"
"spoken like a true wiseman." Sans chuckled, eyeing her jacket with sharp eyelights. "i don't think i've ever seen you wear that coat before. i can feel a sort of sentimental value from it though."
Lithos stunned, grabbing at the sleeve of the black denim and dropping her gaze to the floor. "Yeah..." She idly circled the small golden pin on her jacket, her ears flopped downward in obvious discomfort. "My dad gave it to me. Just before he died."
"sub-human. sounds about right... given your condition." Paps commented, brushing a finger along the patch on her upper back. "what's this stitched with?"
"Dental floss. More durable than thread. Burned at the edges to secure the bind." She scoffed lightly under her breath. "Dad was always a quirky guy." She heard clattering in the kitchen, her ears perking up immediately and her body spinning towards the source. "Someone in the kitchen?"
"yeah. that kid, mippi. he's in there making somethin'." Red answered while scratching at his nose bone. "accordin' to your queen, the kid's a guardian."
"Mippi is an Eternal Guardian?" Lithos's jaw dropped, everyone nodding at her rhetorical question. "We have all 7 Guardians now. Now, it's only a matter of time until Cahtke and the Gloam find their Guardian."
"They might already have." Mippi called from inside the kitchen, a loud clattering of metal ringing out. "I'm okay!"
"What the hell are you doing in there? You need some help?" She called back as she walked through the small threshold and into the kitchen. She stepped back a single step at the sight of pots and pans strewn on the floor and a small Mippi, struggling to reach the spice rack on the shelf above the stove. "Heh... let me get that for you." Grabbing the spice rack and bringing down to a lower level, she smiled at the small monster, his glowing eyes brightened and she could swear she could feel him smiling.
Grabbing a bottle of seasoning, he hopped over to a corner of the counter and placed it down. Glancing at the items on the counter, she smiled wider. Beef, packets of cheddar and broccoli rice, red kidney beans, salt and pepper, cheese, tortillas, and salsa. "Are you trying to make my Beefy Cheddar Rice Burritos?"
"the hell's a beefy cheddar rice burrito?" Red grimaced at the name, his brows furrowed at the two of them as he entered the room.
"A recipe I'd been perfecting for a while. It tastes a lot better than it sounds." She answered, reaching for the apron hanging on the spoke and tying it around her securely. "I take after my dad in a lot of ways. One of them..." She grabbed a bandana off the spoke and tied it around her head, her phantasmal ears poking through the back flaps of the bandana. "...is being a pretty damn good cook." She stepped over towards the cabinet and pulled out a small kitchen stool. She placed it down in front of Mippi and grinned. "I'll show ya how it's done."
"heh... she kinda reminds me of my brother." Sans remarked, grinning widely.
"same here... only less dark." Red replied.
"it's cute." Paps remarked with a nod.
"sure is." Lust agreed.
"First, we preheat the oven to 350 degrees. We'll leave that on while we prep the meat." She reached for the beef packs when Mippi grabbed it instead and began tearing off the plastic wrapping. "Guess you want to do that?" Mippi nodded enthusiastically, crumbling up the meat into small chunks and dropping the pieces off into the pot. Once that was done, he hopped over to the sink and washed off his hands from handling raw meat. He then grabbed the stool and moved it in front of the counterspace next to the stove, then went back and grabbed the pot and placed it on the burner.
"Alright, good job there, Mippi. While the meat cooks, we'll add some salt, pepper and maybe some of that seasoning over there." Lithos leaned forward to turn on the heat of the stove when Mippi grabbed her arm.
"Wait!" She glanced down at him with curious eyes and cocked her head at him. "I-If we use fire magic to c-cook the food... it'll help strengthen our m-magic reserves."
"That's... a really good idea. But I'm not good at using fi-" Just as she was stating her inability to use basic magic, Mippi held a small concentration of fire in the palm of his hand. "Right. Forgot about that. Guess this will be team effort. Keep the temp steady but not too high so I can work with it, alright?" Nodding again, he gently held his hands around the pot, the fire magic soaking into the metal and the sound of sizzling meat reaching their ears. "Normally, when I cook I have music playing as well. Just give me a moment..." She turned her hips so that her tail could brush a button on the underside of the kitchen counter, the sound of trance music slowly filling the room in an ambience.
"Huh... Pjanoo. Wasn't expecting it to start with that. Ah well, works for me."
As she cooked the meat with help from Mippi, she noticed he was tapping his foot to the music. Smiling with a slight grin, she added some salt and pepper to the meat. She signalled to Mippi to take his hands away, moving to kick open the cabinet door and grab a small plastic bucket. Popping open the lid with one hand, she reached for a spoon with that hand and drained the grease. "Grab a tupperware bowl so we can store the meat for now." She pointed towards a cabinet next to Red, who simply grabbed the bowl and handed it to her. "Ah, thanks." As she placed the meat into the bowl she turned and looked at Paps. "Can you drain the beans and rinse them? You can either use the can or grab another bowl."
She took the same pot they had cooked the beef in and measured out 2 cups of water, grabbing a packet of rice, and dumping the contents of the package into the pot. Placing it back onto the stove, she nudged Mippi and nudged her head towards the pot. "The water needs to reach a boiling point, then we let it continue to boil at a lower temp for about 7 minutes or until the rice is tender. It doesn't take that long."
"Okay!" Mippi hopped to the pot and ghosted his hands around it once more.
"While you do that, I'll measure out a cup of cheese and a cup of salsa. Normally the recipe calls for half a cup for each, but I found that it was too weak." She went to reach for the salsa and cheese when blue magic wrapped around the packaging and slowly lifted the contents away from her. She turned and saw Sans smiling with his eyelights twinkling brighter than usual.
Deciding to let him do that, she turned and watched the water, the slow boiling starting to increase to a rolling boil. "Alright... lower the intensity" She stepped over to the rear cabinet and fished out a casserole dish, spraying it with a non-stick spray and waving the residual film away from her face. She then took one of the bottles of salsa and spread its contents along the bottom of the pan.
Time passed almost immediately as she was soon testing the tenderness of the rice. She tapped Mippi's shoulder and took the pot off the burner, moving it to a deactivated one. Adding the beef to the pot and the cheese and salsa, she began to stir the filling. "sounds kinda..." Lust began, narrowing his eyesockets at the pot.
"Says you, smutbones." she retorted with a giggle. She glanced at the casserole dish, only to notice that Paps was standing there with the bag of tortillas. "Do you know how to roll burritos?"
"same basic concept as tacos really." Paps responded, grabbing the pot and placing it on the counter. He began filling the burritos and rolling them. As he rolled them, he placed them in the dish. Lithos couldn't help the slight chuckle that slipped from her mouth at the sight. It was almost like a family cooking. Once all of the burritos were in place, they repeated the steps again, ensuring that everyone in the house would get their fill. They ended up with a total of 18 burritos in two casserole dishes, each one coated with salsa and cheese.
"All we have to do now is let them bake for about 20-25 minutes. Then... it's grub time." She placed the remaining dishes in the sink and began washing off each plate, casually humming to the music playing overhead. It had switched from Pjanoo to a classic song from before her time; a song that ensued the birth of techno music and a catchy favorite of hers. Neo-Tokyo.
"gotta say kid, you have an interesting taste in music." Red started, leaning against the counter next to her. "fits ya really well."
"Oh?" she cocked her head slightly, scrubbing down the pot vigorously.
"yeah. you've got high energy when fighting. sense of power really. this... music fits your fighting spirit if anything." He explained, bobbing his head to the chorus. "it's not really my type of music... but this one is pretty catchy."
"You know... when I hear the lyrics, I kinda think about you guys. The Underground and the sense they must have felt." As she placed the last dish, she turned to face everyone. "I can only imagine how many times you guys looked to the sky- or rather, your ceiling... thinking about a new civilization up on the surface." She shook her head. "I'm sorry for what the human ancestors did. We had no right to have done that to you."
"it's in the past, kid." Sans waved it off.
"y'know... our barrier is still up." Red commented.
"ours too. but the human hasn't shown up since you did." Paps added.
"It'll all come together soon enough." Lithos spoke, untying the apron and stripping the bandana off her head. "Right now, we just have to focus on the universal threat that lingers."
"Don't forget about me, Zer-bear." taunted a chilling voice in her ear. When she glanced up, all of the Judges were standing still and their eyelights gone.
"Trying to get me killed or something, Resurz?" Lithos growled, looking over her shoulder and spotting Resurz leaned back with a foot kicked up over the other. "What do you want?"
"Just a chat with my host."
"host?!" all 4 Judges blurted out in surprise and anger. Mippi cautiously stepped up to Lithos, his hands wringing together uneasily.
"Ooh... A shadow-breed monster! They're pretty much extinct in the monster community. Just like skeletons." Resurz added the last bit with a sinister chuckle. A pressure found its way around Lithos, bringing her down to her knees and almost onto her face. "If you want to hurt your dear soulmate, keep doing that, skullboys."
"are you fuckin' stupid, kid?! why would you bind your soul with the demon you worked so hard to destroy?!" Red shouted, stepping up to her and pulling her off the floor by her jacket collar. "what kinda shit have you been smokin' to do somethin' so fuckin' STUPID!"
Jostling her harshly, she growled and grabbed his hand. "Let. Me. Go..." With each word, her grip increased until she threw him off of her. "Resurz is not our threat." She turned to face Resurz and shuddered. "You think I WANTED this?" The sound of the doorbell ringing caught her attention for a moment, giving her enough of an excuse to grab the food from the oven and place it on the stovetop. "If you need me, you know where to find me."
"Why did you attack Lithos?" Mippi asked shyly, stepping back from Red and closer to Paps, Lust, and Sans. "She didn't do... anything wrong..."
Red turned on his heel, looking at Mippi with wide eyesockets and shrunken eyelights. When he looked up to the other skeletons, he noticed gazes of judgement. "did you all know?" Red asked, his voice small.
"about the soul? no." Lust answered. "but it's pretty damn obvious that she has pretty bad ptsd." He placed his hand on Mippi's shoulder and stepped forward. "didn't you see the fear in her eyes? the way they were clouding?"
"S-Someone hurt her... like you almost did." Mippi added, stepping up to Red and looking up at him. "You scared her."
"he did more than that." Paps remarked, lighting up a cigarette and blowing a column of smoke. "he sent her to the past." He looked down to Sans, who was still staring at the spot she was held. "yo, sans. go to her. you understand her the most."
"right..." he muttered, stepping out of the room and glancing at Red. "but the one who will need to make this right isn't red."
When Sans caught up to Lithos, he watched from afar as she opened the front door. One the other side was a large group of humans, each one gruff looking and appeared uneasy. "More survivors?" she asked in a soft voice?
"More or less." responded the man in the front of the group. "We're looking for Rainbow Wind. We know this is her residence, so why the hell is a monster answering her door?"
"Because race doesn't matter. That and she is currently on a recon mission to investigate the attack." she lied through her teeth. "What is the reknowned HAM faction doing at a monster sympathizer's residence anyway?"
"You were right about one thing, little skeleton. Race don't matter when the world is in danger." He shoved his way past Lithos, her back hitting the wall softly. "We're putting aside our... ideals until this situation is taken care of."
"... Heh. I guess even racists know when to get their heads out of their asses." she whispered under her breath. "Alright. We just made some food. Should be plenty to go around. Come with me." As she turned to guide the group to the dining room, she bumped into Sans. "Hi, Sans..."
"what the hell is going on here? you invited ham into your house?" he whispered.
"I know. It seems like a stupid idea. But with the rate things are going, we don't have any other choice than to let them help us."
"you're right... but i still don't like this."