The Batter stood alone in the empty white room, feeling confused—or, at least, as confused as a soon-to-be-empty vessel can get. He had purified every zone, and put an end to Hugo and the Queen. Only one thing remained for him to do before the world turned to black and, eventually, reset.
But therein lay the confusion. Before he could flip the Switch and turn off the universe, there must be one final battle between the Judge and himself. That was how the script of their world was written. However, he had been waiting by the Switch for some time, and the Judge had yet to confront him. The vague imprint of confusion slowly began to morph into a vague imprint of concern. His Puppeteer was surely wondering what was happening by now. Perhaps they had simply gotten bored and left?
Before he could stew in the oddly (and uncomfortably) prominent terror that idea shot straight through the core of his being, his train of thought was quickly cut off by the sound of footsteps echoing through the barren hallway. Turning around, the Batter was caught slightly off guard when he came face-to-mask with Zacharie.
“Expecting someone else, amigo?” he said dryly, sticking his hands in his pockets. “I managed to convince ol’ Pablo to stay behind this time. Told him I could handle it. I wonder if he’ll be disappointed.” he looked back up with hunched shoulders, shooting the Batter a pained grimace that was, to its credit, trying its absolute damnedest to be a smile. “Heh, nah. I bet he probably won’t even care. He’s still pretty shaken about what happened to… you know.” he tapped his new mask for emphasis.
The vessel’s expression did not change. He knew what must be done, even if it was Zacharie in the Judge’s place. He felt the faintest pang of guilt; the merchant, though a mildly obnoxious conman at the best of times and completely insufferable at the worst, had been the closest he’d ever come to a friend, of sorts. But any regrets he may have had were quickly smothered by instinct. The bat slid off of its resting place on his shoulder, hitting the bleached white ground with a weighty, metallic thud.
Zacharie merely chuckled, making no move to defend himself. “Easy, amigo. Put the bat away. I’m not here to put off what we both know is gonna happen no matter what I do.”
The puppet simply eyed him with suspicion, earning a sigh. “Look. you’re going to flip that switch whether you kill me or not. And either way, we both get erased from existence until your Puppeteer starts up the world again. Don’t you think there’s enough blood on your hands for one day?”
The Batter did not reply. Instead, he hefted the bat back over his shoulder and approached the Switch, with a strange hesitance that he couldn’t explain. He shot one final glance back at Zacharie, just to be sure, and was met with a solemn nod. Heaving a sigh, he placed a hand on the lever and pulled.
Suddenly, the world seemed to freeze, as though time itself had stopped. Instead of fading into pitch black nothing, the two had become stuck in a paralyzing limbo. The phenomenon only lasted a moment, however, as everything abruptly lurched forward before fading out entirely, leaving the puppet and the merchant stranded in a foreign landscape filled with strange symbols. Far above their heads, the Batter could just barely make out what appeared to be a sign, with GAME FOLDER emblazoned across it.
He had no idea what that meant.
“Uhh, amigo?” Zacharie piped up, sounding uncharacteristically nervous. The Batter turned to look at him, eyebrows creased ever so slightly.
“I think we fucked up.”