The sky seemed much more dull now. No longer were the ever-changing colors so neon bright it could hurt your eyes, nor were they so fluid and thick that looking at them made one sick to the stomach. It seemed they were losing shade, losing texture, draining away until it was nothing but the void. It was alarming, definitely, but it was only slight, as if the heart had jumped mildly in the chest.
After all, without Bill, escape was hopeless.
Pyronica sighed as she laid down a few dead bodies in a circle of stones, followed by Hectorgon with an armful of broken lumber. Kryptos, who was attempting to play Go Fish with 8-Ball, looks up at them dimly, as if barely acknowledging they were there. Xanthar was laying down a few feet away, simply staring into the distance, or at least it looked like it. After a moment or two, 8-Ball lays his cards down, which were so dirtied that the numbers couldn't be determined, and turns his head toward Ronnie. "How long now?"
The pink demoness looks up at her goblin-like friend, blinking slightly as if caught off guard. But after a second, the look in her eye fades and she glances over toward a crumbling, barely intact wall, which contained an array of tally-marks burned into the concrete. "...5 months now."
8-Ball merely hummed, while Kryptos's mouth turned down in a worried, troubled frown. "...You think he's ok out there?"
Normally this question would've been met with instant responses, denying any possibility of their closest, and strongest friend, their leader, being hurt or harmed in any fashion.
'Are you nuts?! Bill is fine!'
'I'm sure he'll be back! He just needs to handle those Pines first!'
'He's the Boss, you moron! Nothing can touch him!'
Now, nothing of the sort came. Only the low whistling of the wind had the gall to answer such a heavy question. Kryptos's fists clenched ever so slightly, the leather of his gloves stretching over his claws and barely preventing them from cutting into his palms. A wave of heat washed over his body, and he glances over to see Pyronica setting the make-shift fireplace ablaze, the wood and the dead bodies starting to catch alight. She glances around, then frowns. "Where are the others?"
8-Ball's left ear twitches. "Teeth and Pacifire went to the Eyebats to get anything back. They have those things scouting the entire dimension."
"And AS? Keyhole?"
"Went out to look for stragglers; hopefully we can use whatever tech they have to build us a wormhole out of here. It can be anywhere, really. Even that stupid dimension where everything is an M."
Ronnie sits down in front of the fire, occasionally adjusting a corpse so the meat is cooked more thoroughly. "That isn't going to work."
"Well, they won't listen to that. And, to be frank, neither will I." 8-Ball's ears now flick back, and his expression sours. "..We...We can't just sit here and wait for it all to crumble, Ron."
Kryptos suddenly speaks up, his eye closed and bent down, as if he was hanging his head. "It won't."
Hectorgon, who had been sitting beside Ronnie and merely combing his mustache with an old fork, seems to lean away, as if taken aback. "Are you daft? Can you not see the skies crumbling? The emptiness of the lands around you? It took us days to find these!" At that, he waves an arm at the now sizzling dead bodies. "This whole plane is going to be caving in on itself like a failed attempt at pottery!"
Kryptos looks up at the other shape with a stern glare, gritting his teeth. "No it won't! B-Bill's coming back, you hear me?! He will, and he'll get us out of here!"
Hectorgon leaps to his feet, hands balked into fists. "And how do you know that?! How long are you going to make us sit and wait here until we're all swallowed up by the void?! I say we try and find any outsider we can and make them build a portal too! If a human could do it, so can they!"
Something sparked inside Kryptos's body, and quickly, rage began to fill it up. His eye narrowed as his scowl quickly fell into a snarl of anger, and his vision went red. Suddenly, the mustached prism was shoved to the ground, and harsh blows were landing all across his face. The rhombus was screaming, while Ronnie and 8-Ball only watched, frozen.
"BILL DIDN'T BAIL ON ME WHEN THE WORLD WAS ENDING!! WHEN MY WORLD WAS ENDING! HE CAME AND GOT ME, KEPT ME SAFE, AND I WILL NOT TURN MY BACK ON HIM NOW! NOT WHEN HE'S OUT THERE AND POSSIBLY DEAD!"
Blood was now staining Kryptos's gloves a dull red, and he only realized it when flaming claws had grabbed at his body and forcefully yanked him off. He kept thrashing, his screaming just dissolving into loud curses as he fully came back to himself, and watched as Hectorgon slowly got up off the ground, one of his teeth missing, his lip busted open, and his hands trembling.
8-Ball's ears flew up in alarm, and leapt into action, grabbing Hectorgon under the arms before he could lunge and holding him back. Said shape began to writhe in the goblin's grip, looking ready to murder his attacker, now screaming back. "YOU IDIOT!! YOU'LL GET US ALL KILLED!!"
Ronnie was backing up now, trying to hold Kryptos steady as he started yelling back, kicking wildly. "YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW IF YOUR STUPID PLAN WILL WORK!!! FACE IT, WE'RE TRAPPED HERE UNTIL BILL COMES BACK!!"
"HE ISN'T COMING BACK!!"
A sudden loud roar fills the air, as a closed, giant purple fist comes crashing down just inches away from the four, lifting Ronnie and 8-Ball up in the air by a few feet. They all crashed to the ground in a jumbled heap, and the fire pit was now nothing but splinters, and the stones that made it up were now scattered all across the ground. Xanthar was towering over them sternly, their face inches away from the others, as if glaring at them, trying to make their order clear: no more fighting.
Kryptos and Hectorgon glance at each other, and away, going quiet. Pyronica sighs in relief, and glances at the purple loaf with a shaky grin. "Yeah, buddy. Can do." She gives their face an affectionate pat. 8-Ball just gave a slow thumbs up.
Seemingly satisfied, Xanthar pulled away and laid back down, shifting for a few moments to get comfortable. Kryptos sighs softly as he pushes Ronnie's arms off of him, walking over to the corpses and dragging them back over to where they originally lay. He grabbed a knife, and starting cutting open the skin, a silent gesture for the others to come by and sit. Hectorgon sighs, accepting the olive branch for now, and walks over, touching his bruised lip tentatively. 8-Ball and Ronnie glance at each other before climbing back up to their feet.
Things were much more silent while they ate, with no one speaking at all, for fear of breaking the momentary peace. Kryptos's gaze wandered up to the sky, surveying the slowly darkening horizon, and he could feel his stomach coil into a hard knot. He idly starts chewing on a bone, just to keep himself sated, and after a moment, he glances at Pyronica, who was munching on a femur. He sighs, and removes the bone to speak. "..So...How did you meet Bill, anyway? I mean, from my perspective, he had just...disappeared."
All three of them look up, blinking at the question. Pyronica, after a moment, smiles as the memory comes back to her. "Heheh. It was honestly by accident. See, my homeworld was kind of extremely territorial, and it just so happened that some intergalactic prison had wandered too close, and so, we attacked. Uhh...I think I was a foot soldier or something, can't quite remember anymore. But I do remember opening a prison door and just seeing, well, Bill! He was all colorless and tiny and just so cute! How I could I NOT want to take him with me?"
Kryptos smiled slightly, a faint chuckle drifting from his lips. "Really? Why was he in prison?"
Ronnie flapped a hand dismissively. "Oh, those chucklefucks throw in anyone that doesn't have a license to hop from dimension to dimension. They caught him just as he came through, I think." She bites down on her bone, snapping it in half. She continues speaking, spewing chunks of marrow everywhere. "Anyway, after that, the Council or some shit wanted to execute all the prisoners, to make sure the secret of our existence never got out. We kind of lived on a star, see, and we obviously didn't want anyone coming by to try and enslave us. So, to avoid getting killed, Bill talked me into ditching them, and gave me the offer of both of us exploring the cosmos together. Of course I said yes, and we hijacked a ship belonging to one of the dead prison guards. Off we went to the nearest outpost, and we decided to get jobs. He was a salesman and smuggler, while I was a mercenary and assassin. Pretty good duo, huh?"
8-Ball nodded and spoke up next, smiling as well. "Then you guys ran into me next. Ever wonder where these chains came from?" He gestures to said metal clamps around his ankles and wrists. "I was a sort of genetic monster grown by an extremely violent Empire of bug-people. Thrown me into gladiator fights ever since I could walk."
Pyronica nodded, giggling slightly as her smile turns sheepish. "Me and Bill were captured after a few weeks of traveling around, looking for someone to hire me, and were set up to be new contestants in one of their annual competitions. Poor little guy was basically defenseless against almost every opponent. Running around like a headless Cirblup."
Kryptos blinked, caught off guard by the sudden alien term. "Uhh...You mean a chicken?"
Ronnie chuckles. "That too. Anyway, we had finally reached the rank to face off against Eighty here." She affectionately punches his shoulder. "And, hoo boy, did you put up a fight! I think I had to use my cape to blind you at one point because you were so damn strong! Then Bill came around and clubbed you in the back of the head!"
The goblin chuckles at the memory, and he nods. "Yup. And, well, I had never been defeated before, so I could say I was pretty shocked. Shocked and awed. Soon after, I broke out of my bonds, helped them get back to their ship, and, well, off we went again. Honestly, until we got a job, we were just running around aimlessly."
Kryptos smirks, giggling slightly. "Why do I get the feeling that every time you first met someone you beat the shit out of them?"
Both 8-Ball and Ronnie look a bit sheepish now, the former answering the question. "It wasn't EVERY time. Like, uh Pacifire! Yeah! He was a demon locked away inside the core of a dying planetoid. This weird religious civilization payed us to try and kill him off, but, when Bill saw how miserable Paci was in there, he made a different call. Imagine being trapped inside a ball of fire. Now imagine that ball being slowly compressed by a fuckton of gravity as a huge rock collapses on itself from within. That's where he was when Bill found him."
Kryptos cringes, shuddering at the painful image that was brought to his head. "Yeesh."
And so the conversation grew, Keyptos listening in awe of all of the encounters Bill had witnessed out there in the Multiverse. They had met Teeth inside an abandoned laboratory, the monstrosity having the ability to consume all types of matter no matter how dangerous, but grew too unstable and had attacked and eaten all of the staff. Keyhole was a thief on the run from a galactic dictator, and had hired the group to protect him from bounty hunters and assassins trying to kill him off. Hectorgon was a rebellious leader, trying to overthrow the hierarchy of the Spheres in his home dimension, who were corrupt and cruel.
Kryptos's gaze soured upon hearing that particular section, fists clenching. "...Tch. And here we were thinking the Sphere was an immortal being. Of course the only information of the outside we were given were nothing but lies."
Hectorgon only sighed. "I honestly wish your kind did not have to suffer because of their actions. Toying with your civilization and lives like they were nothing but chess pieces. Bill certainly enjoyed killing them when the rebellion was over."
"Good." Kryptos smirks bitterly.
That sick sense of satisfaction only grew when he learned about Amorphous Shape. Turns out he wasn't just a mutation of the Nightmare Realm like he originally thought, no, it was much worse. The being was a collection of kidnapped Flatlanders, who were killed and their bodies reshaped, in hopes of successfully making a 3 dimensional being. Bill was so disgusted and sickened that he had destroyed the labs in which those experiments had taken place entirely, along with everyone inside. Kryptos had only laughed, stating that they got what they deserved.
And Xanthar? Well, Xanthar just kind of showed up one day on their ship, a lot smaller then he is now, about the size of a puppy. Pyronica was so delighted at the thought of a pet that she refused to listen to Bill's complaints, designating him as the animal sidekick of the group. It wasn't until they landed at another outpost that they found out the purple loaf was the reincarnation of a planet-swallowing monster, and that it would take around 7 trillion years for him to grow to his full size. That still didn't stop Ronnie from getting a dog collar for him, as well as a party hat to wear.
From there, it was only the tip of the iceberg. Bill had seen so many things alongside his friends, things Kryptos, even in his trillion years of life, could barely grasp. Galactic sirens that were as big as nebulas, planets of crystal that spawned advanced civilizations of sentient rocks, oceans of acid that carried beasts of bones, artifacts of immeasurable power, Empires that rose and fell (sometimes because of Bill himself), and even beings of pure, living darkness that would consume anything that approached. By the end of it, the rhombus was slack-jawed, floored by all of the wonders he was still missing out on out there in the grandest and biggest of all dimensions.
Then he paused. And then he spoke. "Wait, how did Bill get his powers then?"
Everything went quiet, and the jovial air vanished in seconds. Pyronica's face was blank for a few moments, and then she bit her lip, arms crossed and shoulders hunched. "...Well...Bill and the rest of us had gotten quite the reputation in many dimensions. Seen as an incredible force that anyone could go to for help. We even began to alter the fate of entire Empires. And, eventually that attracted...other attention."
8-Ball's ears went back, and his expression flickered with fear. "Elder Gods. Those are the things you never want to fuck with. Or deal with."
Ronnie sighed, shaking ever so slightly. "But Bill didn't know that. They came to him when he was alone, tempted him with the promise of nigh immeasurable power and knowledge. Said that all he had to do in return was collect souls. Souls of the people he would continue to make deals with, and sell them off to the Gods so they could grow in strength. Of course, Bill took it. He got power, all the power he could ever want....He was so excited that he decided to try and go back to his home...To see you..."
Pyronica didn't need to finish the thought. He knew what she was talking about. That day, that horrid day when the skies had ripped open and destruction rained down. The entire dimension was reduced to ribbons in a matter of minutes, as if the Gods were shredding up paper. He barely managed to survive, and even then, he was near death when Bill had found him.
Because of Bill, the 2nd Dimension was burnt to ashes. The All-Seeing Eye who destroyed his home for power.
Ronnie shook harder, visibly trembling, eye squeezed shut. "...He...He tried to convince himself, you know? Convince himself he had done it on purpose. Tried to live up to the whole 'demon' thing, since that's what he became. Began conquering entire dimensions to rake up as many souls as possible, absorbing more power to make himself stronger...Happier...And we all sent along with it, just so we could make him smile..."
But it never worked. Kryptos could see it now. All those times his best friend howled with laughter upon burning down armies, gloated and teased any captives he had "befriended" for the sake of tricking them to let him in, or even partied with his friends as they watched civilizations fall...It was nothing but a lie. His happiness was fake.
Kryptos suddenly had tears streaming down his face, and his hands clasp to his eye as he began to hoarsely sob. "...I..I s-sh-should've known...I..I'm...I'm his f-f-fucking friend....H-He was k-killing h-himself...A-And I d-didn't know!!"
Instantly, Ronnie's arms were around him, holding him close as he cried. He could vaguely feel Hectorgon and 8-Ball join in, creating a group hug, and even Xanthar, sensing the sorrow, had leaned down, pressing his face against the four in a soft nuzzle.
Pyronica was rubbing Kryptos's back, shushing him, body shaking. "It's ok. He'll come back, and we'll find a way to make it all better."
Her breath hitches as a tear falls. "H..He'll come back....I..I know he will.."