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Nuclear Conscience

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Chapter I - Enemy Approaching

"ONE PUUUNNNNNNNNNNCHHHHHHHHHH! Three, two one, KILL SHOT! Sanjou! Hisshou! Shijou sakiyou!"

No. You groan, lifting your head up from your pillow. It feels ten-thousand times as heavier than usual as you grope blindly for your phone with half-lidded eyes. I'm not. Getting. Up. Sadly, your phone says otherwise as your alarm blares the lyrics to the One Punch Man opening that you love so dearly on full volume. Finally, you manage to grab your phone and yank it from its charger. That was probably a bad idea, but you're too tired to give a fuck right now. You slide your finger across the screen, silencing the alarm. You throw it back on the nightstand beside your bed.

Dammit. You have to get up. You have a job. Woo-fucking-hoo. You sit up with another groan and look around your room. It's only four or so in the morning, so it's still dark outside, casting your room in shadows. Come on, (L/N). You have to get up. Might as well face the day. With another moan of frustration, you try to move your legs, which have somehow managed to get tangled in the sheets. You try to wrestle them free, but you only succeed in throwing your balance off, causing you to fall off of the bed with a thud, sort of landing on your face. Well, shit, (L/N), that was freakin' smooth. Way to go. Your legs are still caught in the sheets, so you sort of do a backflip thing with your head and manage to free them. The sheets fall off of your legs midair, then proceed to fall on top of you. You flail wildly and manage to get free. With your sheets in a crumbled heap on the floor, you giggle. Sick backflip, if I do say so myself.

Now free from your bed's wraith, you stand slowly, wiping your hair out of your face. You stretch a little bit as a yawn escapes your mouth. Stumbling over to your lamp, you fiddle with the knob until the light is shining and blinding you. You squint, and pout a little. Today is, most likely, going to be one of those off days. You chuckle to yourself. You're a mess, you know. You grab your phone and turn it on, giving it a little apology pat for being so rough with it earlier. When you turn it on, you see that you have an email from your boss. You frown a bit and open it.

Miss (L/N),

Due to the weather today, we will be cancelling practice. See you tomorrow!

You...actually have today off...until your evening job. But still, this is great! You've wanted to do so many things for the past few weeks but haven't had time to. Yes! You can do something interesting today! You smile, then plop back down onto your bed, turning the lamp off. You get to sleep in for the first time in stars know how long. Happily, you close your eyes and drift back to sleep.

...

When your eyes are open again, it's lighter outside, but the sun isn't out. It's hidden behind a curtain of dark clouds. The light pitter-patter of rain on the ceiling lets you know that the boss was right about the weather today. You are an assistant coach for your neighborhood's swim team. You're a pretty fast swimmer yourself, typically landing in gold league times whenever you race. You aren't the best, but you aren't the worst, either. You've been swimming for a couple of years now with your neighborhood team, and in those years, you have gotten to know your coach pretty well. When he had asked you to be an assistant coach for the team, you had agreed almost instantly. You were more than happy to share your knowledge on swimming with the kids, and most of them were pretty nice to you. Occasionally, one or two would try to sweet-talk you out of doing a set, or would just annoy you because they felt as if they had nothing better to do, but the head coach would typically take care of that. Other than that, coaching was pretty fun for you. All of the little kids you taught would cheer for you on the sidelines at meets while you flew in the water, which you absolutely adored. You never failed to cheer them on when they swam, either.

You pull yourself out of bed much more smoothly this time. You walk into your kitchen, deciding to make yourself a much-needed cup of coffee. You gaze at your beloved collection of coffee cups, debating on which one to use. You love coffee mugs and have tons of them; from fandom cups to cats flipping the viewer off, you have a lot of them. A wide variety, too. You eventually settle for a twelve-ounce one that reads: "I run on caffeine, cuss words, and fanfiction." Truer words have never been written. You fill the cup with your favorite kind of coffee, then sit on the couch with your laptop in your lap and a bowl of cereal by your side. It's time to decide what you're going to do today. You flip the TV on to the news channel to see what's up in your world.

Of course, as per usual, the news channels were on monster rights development. Only recently had the monsters been able to move in with humans, and that had been a month ago. Your neighbor is a monster, and his name is Burgerpants. He was kind of an asshole when you first met him, but as time progressed, you two grew to be best friends. He had your back whenever you needed it and you had his. You know a few other monsters that you are friends with, but that was it. You see monsters almost every day, though. The town you live in is pretty close to Mount Ebott, and it is pretty small, too. Monsters first emerged about a year ago, and you felt that they deserved rights too. After all, they'd been here longer than humans had. Plus, with the way the monsters had been treated a few thousand years ago, you thought it was only fair. You couldn't imagine being trapped Underground for so many centuries. The thought never fails to send a shiver down your spine.

Now, you are just waiting for your magical abilities to surface. You've been waiting all of your life to get magic, and now that monsters were here, proving magic was real, it was tearing you up inside. You know you have magic, you just don't know what kind. You have to have magic. Maybe it just needs to be stirred? Awakened? But what kind of magic will it be? You groan. You really need to have some kind of magic power. You hope it'll awake soon.

Your TV brings you out of your thoughts. Okay. What do I do today? A trip to the mall was definitely in order; you were out of manga to read and needed some fandom merchandise to add to your collection. You nod to yourself, sipping on your coffee. You have enough spare money to blow, so why not? You were out of Pocky, too...that had to be fixed as soon as possible. Okay, it sounds like you have an outline of a plan for today. Good enough. You'll start once you finish your coffee and cereal.

...

People are staring at you. It's mostly the adults in the cars next to you at red lights, but there are young children who are just...confused. You're used to it by now. Most adults your age-twenty-three-don't approve of you watching anime or being in the fandoms. Younger kids stare at you because you dress like a teenager fresh out of Hot Topic. Honestly, you can count all of the fucks you give on zero hands. You know that you're a wreck, but you have your shit somewhat together, and you're relatively happy with life. That's all that matters to you right now.

Of course, you brought the staring upon yourself. You are driving your (f/c) Jeep, blaring an anime theme song remix on your radio with the windows down, you're in a fandom shirt, and you are singing. You don't care how many people are staring at you. You love this song and you'll be damned if you aren't going to enjoy it. The mall appears in your vision as you turn into the parking lot. You back up into a parking space that is relatively close to the entrance, then turn off your Jeep and hop out, walking towards the entrance. Monsters and humans are milling about, some rushing to get their cars before the rain starts falling, arms full of bags, and others are heading to the entrance. You spot one man in particular: he has blonde hair that's sort of combed over as well as a face that's a little too perfect. He's glancing at his phone, but something about him makes your gut twist in nervous knots. You decide to stay away from him. Over the years, you've learned it's best to listen to your instincts. The man looks up, and around. You keep your head high, despite your urge to look away. Your dad told you to make eye contact with strangers, to let them know you're paying attention. Sure enough, the man makes eye contact with you. He smiles a painfully fake smile that makes you want to punch him in the face. You tighten your hold on the strap to your purse and manage to smile back, even though it feels more like a grimace. He looks away and proceeds to walk into the mall. You frown, deciding that you'll keep an eye for him or any other weirdos.

You make it into the mall before the rain starts to fall. You walk past all of the shops you hate, which is every shop except the four you'll be visiting today. Your first stop is the bookstore. The smell of brand new books swarms your senses as you walk into your favorite bookstore, your eyes immediately scanning the store for anything that you might like. The scent brings a relaxed smile to your face; it has been too long since you had visited this store. Work has prohibited you from letting you indulge for a while now. Your favorite manga is practically screaming your name as you glide over to the Anime and Manga section. It's empty at the moment, much to your relief. Fairy Tail, One Punch Man, Until Death Do Us Part, Tokyo Ghoul, Blue Exorcist, Akame Ga Kill...all of it is here!

Your hands slowly drift across the spines of your favorite series; one of the new books had come out, and you need it. You gently pull it off of its place on the shelf, then study the cover carefully, examining the beautiful cover art. There's a well-drawn picture of your favorite character wielding a weapon. It's glorious. Finally, after months of waiting, you have it. It is yours. You make a plan as you check a few more series that you are following, only to find that none of them have updated just yet, which brings a disappointed sigh to your face. You would buy your manga, visit the other stores you needed to buy stuff from, then go buy food from your favorite restaurant, and then you were going to go back to your home and retreat to your fanwoman cave and read the manga. Then, when you were finished, you'd watch more anime and eat more food. Maybe after that, you'd resort to fanfiction to help soothe the pain this book was bound to cause. Then, if motivation struck you, you would write fanfiction.

Sounds perfect to you.

A little blur of yellow catches your attention. You turn to see a short, yellow, dinosaur-like monster who is standing a few feet away from you. Covered in sunflower-yellow scales, she has her snout buried in a volume of...Mew Mew Kissy Cutie, it looks like. She is wearing a shirt that has some fandom joke on it that you don't get. You assume that it is from the manga she's reading. You smile. She's shorter than you, the top of her head comes up to your waist. She doesn't seem to notice you. Even so, seeing her happy sends a little swirl of joy throughout your being.

You love it when other people are happy.

Your smile fades when the man from earlier approaches the little monster from behind. He has something sharp in his hand. He doesn't seem to notice you, and the dinosaur is too wrapped up in her manga to notice the man behind her.

You drop your manga and move before your mind can catch up. Just as the man raises the knife, your hand is already on his wrist, preventing the knife from coming down. You kick him in the crotch, causing him to yell in surprise, then turn so his arm is on your back. You flip him over your shoulder. He lands on the tile floor with an 'oof'! The knife skitters away from him. He sweeps you off of your feet with his legs before you can pin him down. You land on your back, and he straddles you. His knife is back in his hand.

"Why are you defending a monster, ya fuckin' traitor?!" he growls. You grit your teeth, then push your hips up. He loses his balance for a minute, but that doesn't keep him from swinging his knife at your face. You lose focus for a moment, and the knife slashes across your right eye. You stifle a yell as the man falls off of you. You get up, ignoring the pain in your eye. Blood is oozing from your wound. Someone behind you is screaming for something. You manage to kick the knife from his grasp, then you screech and tackle the man, hand coming off of your eye. The man gasps in shock, and you take advantage of his distraction to pin his wrists to the ground. He swings his head forward, but you dodge just in time. Some of your blood drips onto his face. You keep him like that until a few security guards come to put him under arrest. You stumble to your feet, your blood-covered hand on your eye again.

"O-oh, stars, miss! Are y-you o-okay?" You turn to see the little yellow monster facing you. She's shaking a little bit, and she looks absolutely terrified. When she sees your blood-covered hand, she gasps. Despite the pain in your eye, you manage to smile anyway.

"I'm fine. Just a little cut, is all. Are you okay?" you question back.

"I-I'm alive t-thanks to you!" she cries. "Please, come w-with me. I know someone w-who k-knows healing m-magic." She takes your free hand, and guides you through the crowds. A stupid smile grows on your face. You were about to meet another monster with healing magic!

"T-Toriel! Where are you?" the little monster cries. A crowd is starting to form around the scene near the manga section; the man is being handcuffed currently. A few mall security guards are around him, and a few people are trying unsuccessfully to push past them. You turn back to see that the little monster has stopped and is facing a...goat monster about six feet tall. She's wearing a purple dress that has a symbol that you know you've seen before embroidered in the center. Isn't that symbol of the ambassador? It was something along those lines. Her eyes are a gorgeous shade of blue, and are filled with kindness and worry.

"Y-your highness! This woman j-just saved my l-life, and I-I was wondering if you c-could maybe h-heal her eye? That man cut it, and it looks p-pretty bad." The little monster lets go of your hand, and the goat monster shifts her gaze to you. Before you know, a pair of gigantic paws are forcing you to sit down in a chair.

"Oh, stars, Alphys!" The goat monster sighs, then tugs at the hand covering your eye. You pull it off and bite your lip, a bit nervous when you see the amount of blood on your hand. You really hope that's not your blood that you taste on your lips. You can't see out of your right eye at all. It's a strange sight; you can see out of your left eye, but not your right. "Oh dear, child. He cut it deeply. I am Toriel, the Queen of the monsters. And you are?" she asks gently, covering your injured eye with her paw. Her fur is strangely soft and fluffy.

"I'm (Y/N) (L/N)," you respond as green, fire-like wisps start to surround you. You grow a little dizzy as the warmth spreads across your face, enveloping you in a cocoon of sleepiness.

"That's a pretty name. Oh, stars, dear. Your eye looks bad. I think I can take care of it, though. When you lifted your hand, could you see out of it?" Toriel's paw shifts, but doesn't come off. You stare at the green wisps in wonder.

"No," you say, hoping to death that you won't go partially blind. You want to be able to see your manga and TV screen with both of your eyes, not one! You refuse to go blind! You have too much manga and anime to read and watch, and not enough time!

"Okay, Miss (L/N). It's okay. I may be able to bring your vision back. Hold still and quit squirming. I'm not going to hurt you." The warmth makes you a little sleepy. She continues to press her paw against your eye for a few minutes, then she finally releases you. You blink a few times, a little disoriented at first. You can see again. A sigh of relief escapes your lips. You run your hand over your eye. Underneath your fingertips you can feel the unmistakable texture of dried blood that coats your skin.

"I am sorry, child, but I...cannot heal scars." You frown. A scar, huh? You wonder how badass you'll look!

"Oh, that's fine! Thank you, you brought my vision back!" You stand up, suddenly desperate to see the new addition to your face. You take out your phone from your back pocket. The screen is cracked, which you assume was from the fall, but you open it up anyway to the camera app. You stare at your face.

There's a long scar across your right eye. It starts about an inch above your eyebrow, then trails down. When you close your eyelid, you can see that the scar is continued on it, then it goes down to your cheek, about half an inch down. You're right. You look like a badass right now, with all of the dried blood covering your face and chin, along with your newly obtained scar.

"Oh man, I look awesome! Thank you, Toriel." It was in that moment you remember that she had said 'queen'.

Oh.

The...queen of monsters. Was right. In front. Of you.

Oh.

OH. SHIT.

"Um...your highness? Majesty?" You frown. Hadn't the dinosaur-Alphys-called her highness? Toriel must have seen your conflicted expression, because she giggles and smiles.

"Just Toriel is fine, Miss (L/N)," she grins again, stepping backwards a few steps. Alphys looks back at you.

"U-um...thank y-you, (F/N)...you...you s-saved my life..." she stutters, her paws fidgeting with the hem of her shirt.

"ALPHY! WHERE'S MY ALPHY AT?! ALPHYYYYYY!" Alphys' eyes widen in shock, and she turns to meet the owner of the voice.

Another monster, this one about as tall as Toriel, stampedes through the crowds. She's a fish-like monster with dark, navy blue scales and fiery scarlet hair that's been pulled into a ponytail that flows gracefully below her shoulders. She has a dark, cloth eyepatch on her right eye, and her other eye is yellow with blue pupils. She's in dark black shorts and a bright yellow tank top that contrasts beautifully with her scales and emphasizes her huge biceps. Her mouth is twisted into a snarl, which shows off the fangs in her mouth.

"U-Undyne!" Alphys turns to the fish woman and jumps into her arms. You smile. The two are practically polar opposites, you can tell that much by the color of their scales that contrast perfectly together, by how much shorter Alphys is than Undyne, and how much more shy Alphys seems to act.

Heh. You barely know these two, and yet you already ship them.

"Are you okay, Alphy? I SWEAR TO GOD IF ANYONE HURT MY ALPHY I'M GONNA KILL 'EM SO HARD THEY-" Her snarl unfurls when Alphys wraps her arms around the taller monster's neck.

"It's okay, Undyne. I'm okay." Alphys closes her eyes as Undyne's gaze shifts to you. You bite your lip, unsure of what to say.

"Who is the human?" Undyne asks, her tone a bit calmer now.

Alphys doesn't open an eye. "This is (Y/N). She saved my life."

Your smile broadens as you introduce yourself.

Undyne set Alphys down, and scans you with her eye, folding her arms across her chest. "So you saved Alphys' life?"

Thankfully, Alphys cuts in here: "Yeah! S-she blocked the m-man's attack, then kicked the knife out of his hand and then kicked him in the crotch and then she turned so his arm was backwards and flipped him over her back! It was awesome, Undyne! It was like right out of an anime!" A hint of red appears on the shorter monster's face. "He cut her eye with the knife, and that's how she got that awesome s-scar!"

To your relief, Undyne grins and steps a bit closer. "Wow, I wish I saw that! Well, anyway, punk...I owe you big time. You saved my fiancée's life." Her smile fades. "I'm serious, man. I owe you. Anything you need, just ask."

You...honestly don't know what to say to that. Should you smile and thank her? Deny her and enforce your main point? Already, you can feel the heat on your cheeks. "Oh, no, you really don't need to repay me. I'm just glad Alphys is okay and that dick is going to jail." Another grimace crosses onto your face at the memory of the man. Turns out, your gut was right about him. Okay, what you said wasn't too bad, but maybe you should watch your language around them. Toriel, especially, seems like she wouldn't approve of cursing. You mentally pat yourself on the back. Look at you, trying to make a good impression on these monsters. You're trying to make friends again. Good job, you.

Undyne's smile is small, but it reappears. Even though you just met Undyne, you feel as if she should be a monster whose smile shouldn't be that small. The attack must have spooked her more than she would like to admit. "Damn. Well, at least let us take you out for lunch." Alphys perks up at this.

"Yeah! Everyone's going to want to m-meet you a-after you saved m-me," Alphys adds, her paws fidgeting a bit.

That sounds nice...but it could also go downhill in a number of ways. But...why the hell not? Alphys seems pretty nice, and she's into anime, so there's something you guys could talk about. Undyne seems pretty cool, too. Maybe she's into anime too? And, did they say everyone? You're definitely up for meeting new monsters!

You nod. "Yeah, that sounds good!" Then, you remember your fallen book. Your eyes widen in realization. "Oh, shit! I'll be right back!" So much for watching your language. You dart off to find your beloved manga as Undyne, Alphys, and Toriel just chuckle at you.

"She seems pretty cool," Undyne states, holding Alphys a little closer.

"Yes. She's...different, that's for sure," Toriel says, chuckling when she sees you running to the checkout line.

"I h-hope we can be friends with her," Alphys agrees, clutching Undyne's hand.

You throw the correct amount of money onto the counter, and the clerk bags your book, then counts out your change, which you thrust into the bag. You walk over to where the three monsters are standing to find Alphys holding Undyne's hand, Undyne tapping her foot repeatedly, and Toriel on the phone. You approach the trio, bag in hand. Toriel walks out of the store, murmuring to the person on the other end of the line.

"Okay, here's the plan, punk. We're gonna meet our other friends that we'd like for you to meet at our favorite diner! It's pretty close by. Called Griilby's, ya ever heard of it?" Undyne asks, her free hand digging around in her back pocket.

"I've heard of it, but have never been there," you respond. You've heard Burgerpants talk about it before, when you two were letting each other fume about the all of the shitheads you both ran into on a daily basis.

"You're gonna love it, trust me. Now, here are some directions." She hands you a yellow, crumpled Post-It note with sloppy yet legible handwriting on it. You fold it up a bit neater and stuff it in your pocket. "Meet us there around noon, 'kay?"

You nod. "Cool! I'll be there." Lunch with a group of quirky monsters? This you had to see. 'Quirky' was right up your fucking alley.

Undyne smiles again. "Great! Well, we better get on going. Everyone's gonna wanna know what happened," Undyne says and sighs again, her grin disappearing and eyes sinking, "but we'll see you later, punk!"

You wave back at them as the couple races out of the bookstore, with Undyne half-dragging, half-carrying her fiancée. You chuckle when they disappear from view.

Yeah.

You like quirky shit.

The mall security guards end up pulling you aside for questioning. You explain what happened to them, and they let you go. You thank them, and with that, your retaliation is marked off as 'Self-Defense', and the dick that attacked Alphys is arrested for attempted murder. You grin smugly; as always, justice prevails. Serves that douchebag right.

A security guard points you to the bathroom, which reminds you that you have dried blood all over your face, and that it would probably be a good idea to wash it off. The crowd around the attack scene has begun to dissipate a bit, so people are now staring at you in what they must think is a discreet manner. Some ask you if you are okay, which you reply 'yes' to.

When you finally make it to the bathroom, you scrub at your face furiously until it's red-whether it was from the friction or blood, you didn't know. After most of the blood is off, you finally get a good look at the scar.

It's...weird. Your heart slightly skips a beat at the sight of it.

At first, you have a hard time recognizing yourself. It's such a defining feature, one that you won't be used to for a while. Snapping yourself out of your daze, you resume scrubbing. Hey, at least you're not blind. Or hurt. That situation could have turned out much worse.

Once most of the blood is gone, you check your phone. It's nearing eleven-thirty. You wrap up your little party in the bathroom by rinsing the sink out, then head out to your Jeep.

...

As much as you love the rain, now isn't really a great time for it to begin pouring. You jog through the parking lot, hunching over your bag so your manga doesn't get wet. Your feet slap against the pavement, rainwater splashing all around your feet and ankles. You manage to dodge a few cars that are going a little too fast in the parking lot as you make your way to your Jeep. You find your keys after a few seconds of fumbling around in your purse, then unlock it. You tug on the handle and clamber in, gently setting the soaking wet bag onto the passenger seat, then shove the key in the ignition. You pull out of the parking lot, then get onto the road that will lead you home.

Hm. Well, today has been interesting. Although, you didn't get to go visit your other stores. Not that you mind; you're excited to meet the monsters and possibly make more new friends. You decide to go shopping later on. You get home around eleven forty-five, making a few mental calculations. You have time for a super-quick shower, you decide, making your way to your apartment door.

"Stars, (Y/N)! What the fuck happened to your face?!" A small chuckle escapes you as you turn to face Burgerpants. He's in his work uniform, clamping an unlit cigarette between his teeth. There are a few grocery bags hanging from his arms.

"Oh, hey BP. I can't really talk now, but to make a long story short, I brought fists to a knife fight. I'll tell you the full story later," you reply, leaning back on your open apartment door.

"Shit. Why am I not surprised? Anyway, I'll see you later. Be a little more careful, will you?" You nod and say your goodbyes as he rolls his eyes in a playful manner, then turns back to his door. You stumble into your own apartment, shutting the door behind you.

From outside, you can hear thunder booming overhead, the drops of rain coming down even harder. You set your belongings on your couch, then hurry to your bathroom to get ready.

By the time you get to the diner, you're two or three minutes late. You slam the door to your Jeep closed, lock it up, then head inside, pulling your (f/c) hood over your head. The rain hasn't stopped yet, and shows no sign of stopping in the near future. You race to the entrance. The diner seems like it's pretty modern. The sign that reads 'Grillby's' red and a bit distorted from the amount of rain pouring down in front of it. You can't quite make out the details of the outside as you jog in.

A little bell rings above your head as you enter the little diner, causing several faces to whirl around to meet yours. There's quite a few customers: a good mix of monsters and humans. One group of monsters in particular catches your eye. They're definitely an odd bunch, consisting of Toriel, who is sitting next to another, larger goat monster wearing a Hawaiian shirt with shorts on. You think this is King Asgore; you swear you've seen him on TV before. Sitting next to him is Undyne, who is waving to you like a maniac, next to her is Alphys, who gives you a shy wave. Sitting across from Alphys is a...really tall skeleton man who seems to be dressed in some kind of costume, posture rigid and straight, eye sockets lacking light. Slouching in the chair next to him is another skeleton. This one is much shorter, skull more rounded than the other one's. He's in a blue jacket, white shirt, basketball shorts, and pink slippers with white socks. His skull turns toward you. His eye sockets aren't pitch black like the skeleton's next to him; instead, they have little white pinpricks in them. They dart over your soaking form a few times.

Huh. Definitely not what you were expecting.