The sharp tang of bile was itching in your throat and you cough to get rid of the sensation, your face streaked with hot tears. Blackhat's raspy cackle makes you shiver.
1. It Was A Dark And Stormy Night
The last thing you saw was a familiar toothy grin in a familiar skeletal face, golden canine flashing at you.
sorry doll but i can’t have ya ruinin' my goddamn business.
And then your vision turned black from one second to the next.
When you come to again, it’s more like jerking awake from accidentally falling asleep; your heart rate immediately through the roof, your body shooting up on its own, and your brain struggling to keep up with the speed of your base reflexes.
The first and only thing you know for sure is: you aren’t safe!
It stays dark all around as you open your eyes, blinking a few times to make sure you’re really awake. The second thing you become aware of is a throbbing pain at the back of your head, emphasized by your now thundering heartbeat. An involuntary groan slips through your clenched jaws and you quickly feel for the painful spot beneath your hair. Dried blood yields under your fingertips and the groan turns into a pained hiss. And as if that had been the trigger, your other senses suddenly tune in.
You become aware of the shrill alarm ringing in your ears, loud enough to make you jump to your feet only to fall back on your butt when a sudden vertigo grabs hold of you. You can barely stifle the pathetic whine rising in your throat.
The siren sounds too much like a burglar-alarm – what the fuck is going on?
A bolt of lightning from outside illuminates your surroundings for a split second and burns the negative into your retina before the cracking thunder drowns out even the blaring alarm.
You flinch back, both from the noise and the unknown surroundings. The image of the broken high window you're lying in front of confuses you more than that it yields any answers as to why you’re here and where the hell here is.
Once again you try to stand, placing your hands on the ground, and this time you yelp in pain when sharp glass shards cut into your palms. There's more glass in your clothes, your hair, and upon further inspection you notice fine cuts on your face. As if you had jumped head first through the window…
“What the…” you mumble, alarmed, and wheel around when you suddenly hear more noises through the growling thunder and the shrieking of the siren.
Agitated voices; one of them barking orders.
Your mind is racing; it's the black of night, you’re inside a house you don’t know, you apparently came in through the window, triggered an alarm and… knocked yourself out?
Tiny hackles rise in response to your finely attuned instincts and you blink rapidly, trying to get accustomed to the darkness and look for a place to hide. This is more than bad. If you were indeed on a heist and had managed to screw up this royally despite your level of experience, then you had to get out of this mess quickly!
Immediately though, you turn to the window and carefully feel your way towards the wooden sill. It was plain stupid to hide inside - and probably get cornered by whoever was now looking for you – when you could simply get the hell out of here the way you’d come in from.
Bracing yourself on the windowsill, you already attempt to swing a leg over and through the gaping hole, when you stop dead in your tracks, your heart leaping into your throat.
You are over 30 feet above the ground.
Cursing hoarsely under your breath, you quickly push away from the window and stumble farther into the dark room. Now your eyes are darting around in panic, searching desperately for a hiding place.
How the fuck did I get in through that window?? You ask yourself completely dumbfounded and quietly sneak up to the only door you can find. The how isn’t that important right now. The how to not get fucking caught is your one and only priority!
Fortunately the door isn’t locked so you’re able to quietly open it an inch and peer out into the dark hallway beyond. It is a little brighter out there and you quickly take in the thick, dark runner covering the floor, the expensive wooden wall-panels and the golden, gilded frame of a huge painting across from you. Definitely a place you’d normally rob. Still not explaining where you are, how the hell you got here and what it is you might have been looking for.
Suddenly a shrill, male voice cuts through your thoughts: “Dementia! The intruder has to be on this floor – get them!”, followed by such an insane fit of laughter that it has you breaking out in a cold sweat. But that is nothing compared to the shockwave racing down the hallway, announcing the distinct feeling of a presence, so malicious and threatening that you instinctively recoil, almost letting the heavy wooden door fall shut before you can manage to clutch the doorknob again.
“Flug!” The thundering voice seems to echo unnaturally inside your skull and you shake where you’re frozen to the spot, the cold sweat from before turning to ice on your skin. Who is that? Or more importantly… what is that?!
“Y-yes, sir?!” the first voice answers, sounding almost as scared as you are. Which scares you even more and sparks a dreadful suspicion in the back of your brain.
“Explain.” The entity simply growls. You have no doubt that the owner of that voice is not human.
“Well, uh, you see boss we're having a- um, a break-in and-"
“I am aware of that you imbecile! Why haven’t you caught the intruder yet?! That blasted alarm is starting to seriously get on my nerves…” There’s an unhidden threat in his voice, the promise of agony, and the one called Flug is now even quicker to answer.
“S- sorry boss, I will turn it off immediately! Dementia!” he yells once more with cracking voice, reminding you with another pang of fear that there had been a third person! You strain your ears at the sudden absence of the alarm. "I thought you already tracked them down!! You useless lizard!”
The answer is a defiant hiss and the sound of something quickly scuttling along the walls and ceiling.
“Don’t tell me what to do, nerd! I’ll have them caught before one of your stupid robots gets the chance! And then I’ll rip them to tiny shreds!” the high-pitched female voice shrieks, shrill enough to grate on your nerves like a buzz saw.
You swallow the growing lump in your throat and slowly close the door. You’ve heard enough. This clearly isn’t just some fancy old mansion of rich snobs. This is a villain's lair!
“No.” The inhuman voice snaps. "I want them alive. I want to know how they got past our defenses and then I'll have a chat with you, doctor.” You almost feel bad for the poor guy named Flug. Almost. However your self-preservation ranks higher than any sympathy for another villain's henchman.
You scan the room, but apart from a few bookshelves and dusty side-tables it is disappointingly empty. And since that Dementia can apparently scale walls you doubt that hiding on top of the shelves is going to do you any good.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck!...” you whisper and hurry back to the window, digging in your jacket's pockets for your gear. Your knives probably aren't exactly suited to double as climbing spikes but they might offer enough support to hang on the wall until they're done with searching the study room.
Your breathing stops altogether when you are met with only emptiness. You quickly pat down the chest part of your modified leather jacket. No dice; every hidden pocket has been emptied! No lockpicks, no knives, not even your fucking phone which means you can't even call base for backup!
How in the fuck did you get into this mess? This isn't you! You would never even leave your own apartment without at least a handful of throwing knives hidden in the sleeves of your jacket! You're keys are missing as well, as is your wallet. Basically everything you owned and carried on your person is gone!
Your mind is once more racing, frantically trying to dig up any memory of how you got here or what you were doing before you had gotten here.
“Fuck. Sans is going to kill me if I even make it out of here alive…”
Yeah… if was the right term in this situation.
Before you can sense anything, you are suddenly thrown onto your back by something heavy, your startled scream knocked out of you from the impact with the hardwood floorboards.
The pain in your head spikes cruelly when it is slammed into the ground by a strong hand. Above you, a shrill, girlish voice cackles hysterically and you can see yellow eyes glinting in the van light.
“Ahahahaha, gotcha!” So this Dementia can move stealthily as well!? You twist beneath her legs and kick at her, but she spins you around with alarming strength and pulls your arms onto your back in the same motion, making your joints sing with pain as your face is smooshed against the wood. "Wanna fight, little thief? You're no match for Dementia the Destroyer!!” she roars and gives your arms another warning twist, making you actually cry out at the pain now.
"Fuck!! Stop it you bitch!! Fine, I yield, you got me!” you yell, only in order to get her to loosen her grip, but the maniac doesn’t budge one inch. Instead she plops down on your back and hums an awfully happy tune.
Not a second later you hear footsteps entering the room and strain your neck to look at the newcomer. Something strikes you as oddly familiar as you quickly scan the person you can only assume to be Doctor Flug.
He’s wearing a crinkled and stained labcoat over a blue graphic tee and jeans, red converse shoes and a… you blink in disbelief. His entire head is covered by a paper bag, the only thing visible being a pair of tinted safety goggles somehow strapped over the brown paper. The light from the hallway makes them glint like headlights and with the way he has his arms crossed on his back it makes him look more like an evil genius than you would have given him credit for after that exchange with his… boss.
“Uh…” you make, not really sure what to say in your defense. You’re starting to think that someone must have tricked you, set you up. There is no way you would decide to pull a heist on a fricking villain out of all people to rob and then come unprepared and somehow manage to crash through a window in the third floor!
Flug cocks his head to one side, the gleam of his goggles shifting with the motion and somehow giving him an almost eerie amount of expression.
“If you're smart, you won't resist and answer my questions, got it?” he says, not unfriendly, but it's exactly that niceness that makes you extra cautious.
“Listen, I wish I could explain… this. But I honestly have no fucking idea how I even got here. I'm terribly sorry about the window, um… I know what this must look like but I assure you-" Before you get any further, another forceful shockwave moves the air around you and Flug cowers a little. Even Dementia, still perched on your back, flinches so hard she yanks on your arms.
But you don't make any sound. You just don't dare. Because the being that suddenly emerges from the shadows themselves is no one other than…
“L- Lord Blackhat, sir!” Flug croaks, shaking violently at the almost physical waves of rage the super-villain is exuding and that seems to be directed at everything and everyone in this dark and dusty study.
You openly gape at him, your mind overpowered by terror. If the situation had been bad before, it's gone to full-blown shit now. Of course you know him. Everyone knows him!
Blackhat, founder and owner of the nefarious Black Hat Organization, is the only untouchable force in the entire underworld of evil. Since he provides every villain that has the money (or, allegedly, souls) with high grade weaponry of mass destruction and havoc galore, he is basically immune to any form of assault from them or their rivals. If something like a godfather of all villains even existed, it would have to be this man. Whose manor you apparently broke in to.
To sum it all up: you were as good as dead!
You already take a quick breath to sputter out a wave of apologies and start your well-established groveling routine, when the glare out of his one eye settles on you and crushes any amount of courage you have kept until now. He is already way fucking scarier than your own boss could ever hope to be, and that one was a fucking skeleton!
Blackhat hasn't even done anything to you yet, let alone spoken a single word, and you already feel tears stinging at the corners of your eyes. Fuck, this is not how you wanted to die!
He’s just standing there, one hand casually resting on his back, the other propped on the curve of an elegant black walking cane. You can see the shimmer on his polished shoes, complete with galoshes, the fine material of his suit pants and you know, you just know, that he is going to do horrible things to you.
“Mr. Blackhat…” you whisper and immediately have to swallow, your throat dry as a desert. But you regret to have ever opened your mouth almost instantly. The long, antennae-like brows draw together into a scowl beneath the rim of his signature black top hat with the red hatband, and the arm he's still keeping behind his back flexes ever so slightly. Yet you are being flung into the air, Dementia tumbling off you with a yelp. An invisible force wraps around your throat and squeezes. Your hands desperately claw at your neck, trying frantically to free it from the horrible chokehold.
Your struggle elicits a cruel grin from Blackhat that takes up almost two thirds of his ashen face, giant fangs glowing green in the dark and his monocle gleaming dangerously. A low, entirely evil chuckle begins to work its way out his chest as he squeezes once more before suddenly dropping you to the ground. You gasp for air, taking lung after lung full of precious oxygen, trembling on your hands and knees.
“I'll do the talking, you pathetic excuse for a thief.” He growls, his raspy, strangely accented voice sounding as far from human as possible while still being understandable. To your utter horror, Dementia giggles in delight and scuttles excitedly along the broken window, emitting something close to an actual dreamy sigh. Yikes.
You just nod in defeat and slump down, resting on your hip to conserve your strength.
“Who are you working for.” It's not a question. It's an order and your barely settled heart freaks out again. You can't tell him! Your boss will kill you if you get him into trouble with his own weapons dealer! And if Blackhat is only half the malicious monster everyone makes him out to be, he will make sure to deliver you straight to Sans, gift box and all, to let him grind you into a fine paste himself.
Suddenly, mercifully, a memory flashes before your eyes, a series of images and a dark, heavily accented voice from behind red smoke. You remember the throbbing wound in the back of your skull. Sluggishly, the pieces seem to form an image but…
“No…” you mumble to yourself, somehow having forgotten that you are currently tap dancing on a blade's edge. "He wouldn’t…”
The strike of the cane takes you off-guard and you cry out in pain when the hard wood swiftly slashes over your face, tearing your cheek open. You're thrown to the ground by the sheer force and quickly press a hand over the fresh cut.
“Speak up you bothersome nuisance!” Blackhat snarls impatiently. "Your worthless existence is only prolonged because I want to snuff out two insignificant maggots today to make it worth my time! So you better give me a name, or…” His voice rises menacingly and with it his features distort, eye suddenly glowing red and fangs stretching into needle-like daggers while his jaws open inhumanly wide, ready to maul and tear into delicate skin-
“Sans!” you all but scream out. “I- I work for Sans Gaster. But- but I wasn’t sent here by him, I swear! He…” Your panicked explanation runs into a dead end since you still don’t know what the fuck happened to you after…
Right, you had returned from another heist on a hero's safe-house, arms full of cash and secrets. Then one of the monsters running messages had told you the boss wanted to speak to you and you had taken the metal steps up to where he had his office in the abandoned factory building. The stuffy air inside had smelled of mustard and cigars, like usually, clouds of red smoke billowing around your boss's wide, skeletal frame. He had eyed you with his usual grin, golden canine flashing in the light.
Blackhat makes an irritated, confused noise that still somehow sounds angry enough to make you snap back to attention.
You almost burst out laughing in disbelief. How the fuck does he not remember one of his own customers? Sans had even made you watch one of Blackhat's orientation tapes to demonstrate you what would happen to you if you should ever cut from his share of your heists.
You flinch at the thought. You had never cut his share! You had always been too afraid of getting beat up more than you already were. Or worse…
“Boss, he- he's one of our regular customers, even has a golden card as of lately.” Flug interjects anxiously and quickly pulls out a phone, scrolling through something before showing it to Blackhat who makes a disgusted face at the device.
“Eugh. That skeleton mobster? He must be seriously suicidal if he dares to send his lowlife hoodlums to my lair!” suddenly the single, sharp pupil darts down on you again and you already fear another swing. "Tell me, tiny thief… how did you know where to find my organization?” he demands to know.
“I didn't!” you try to explain. “I have no idea where the hell I am or how I got here, I swear on my life!”
Blackhat scoffs at that: "Your life means nothing to me, little thief.”
“Yeah? Well it does to me!” you blurt out before you can stop yourself, mortifying dread immediately gripping your innards in an ice-cold clutch. Though maybe it's just Blackhat again, judging by the way his expression darkens and by Flug's shocked gasp.
To your horror, Blackhat's smile returns. Only now it's a grin as wide as that of a Cheshire cat, perfectly delighted in the prospect of what might come next and he raises the hand not holding the cane, curling his gloved fingers into a fist par for his index and thumb.
“Dr. Flug.” He announces darkly. "I'll be in the dungeon. Clean this mess up and start working on better defenses.”
“Yessir, right away sir. Have fun sir.” Flug hurries to reply while also taking a few steps away from his boss. Up on the wall, Dementia cackles. You feel the sudden need to swallow thickly again.
"Du- Dungeon?” But then Blackhat already snaps his fingers and you're pulled down through the floor, darkness engulfing your body. Immediately you start screaming, yet no sound leaves your throat. Instead, you hear a howling all around you like the pained cries of a thousand doomed souls. The darkness thickens and churns, threatening to suffocate you before it spits you back out again and you're dropped onto hard, cold stone.
The sharp tang of bile tingles in your throat and you cough to get rid of the sensation, your face streaked with hot tears. Blackhat's raspy cackle behind you makes you shiver.
“Now, don’t get all too comfortable little thief.” He mocks you as he approaches, dress shoes clacking brightly on the stone floor. You want to whirl around and recoil from him, but your body won't obey you. All it can do is tremble in fear. You're not really afraid of torture. Sans had inflicted more pain on you on a daily basis than Blackhat can perhaps imagine, so you're pretty used to that.
What you're really afraid of is Blackhat himself. Or rather, what other horrors his unearthly powers can conjure up to torment your mind. Sure, Sans Gaster was a monster, figuratively and quite literally, able to work all kinds of creepy magic himself. But something about the sharply dressed gentleman in the black hat tells you that he is on an entirely different level of evil. In all honesty, he reminds you of the devil himself.
And he’s coming closer.