Chapter 1: .0: This is Your Concept Speaking
once upon a time, there were two deities.
their names were fate, and destiny-
you already know that story.
this story ... is mine.
you know me by the name of mercy. a concept, literally, that's been ignored in a looot of different timelines, ones that you creators thought up. i'm tired of it. who wouldn't be? the first universe, the original timeline, mercy was something that a lot of creators saw and thought, hey, this is ... new. you call the original universe, the original timeline, 'undertale', an 'rpg'. it's contained in a multiverse owned by fate, who is the worst, pretty much (as much as i'll talk about redemption, she's past that, trust me). we gotta zoom out here, though.
in fate's multiverse, there are two ... uh ... gods? gods, ink and error. creation and destruction. half of the timelines you creators make center on how error is the bad guy, the one who destroys and is eeeevil blah blah blah. and then there's the the other half, the ones who portray him as the innocent. and that's where my problem is. in most of the things you creators make, ink never gets a single bit of mercy. he never is allowed to be redeemed, "nah, he's soulless and hurt a lot of people because he was ignorant, no redemption arc here"- just ... nobody ever thinks about the other side, and that's where the whole concept of this half came from. you've stopped considering once you flip perspectives. and you know what? that makes me mad. mercy being ignored. redemption not being given. so when I got my own multiverse ...
I shifted the perspective
this isn't my story.
this is the story of redemption, of stepping back and looking at the bigger picture, of a concept i'm saddened by, that has been forgotten by a lot of you creators.
this is the story of how one little skeleton monster, one who was just a kid, threw my whole multiverse into chaos. a skeleton monster that I made myself, despite the popular belief of the multiverse's residents.
his name is gradient. a combination of the creator and the destroyer. not their child, but a fusion. my favorite little creation ...
they're going to call him the villain. and what he'll do is certainly villainous.
but like I said ...
this is a story of redemption.
Chapter 2: PR: The Small-Print, Lawyers, Don't You Love Them?
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Ink happily examines his newest creation.
An empty AU, one purposely meant to destroy the thing that destroys. Not one life would be risked, not any that matter anyhow, and it was one of his greatest creations. Ink definitely preferred the ones where things were interesting, but this one would get rid of the biggest threat to the Multiverse. So it's... okay, at least in his book. He grins, right eyelight shifting to an exclamation point in green. The trap was set, and he was due to get back to the meeting hall. Ink creates a portal using Broomy, and dives in.
Error was especially annoyed today.
Ink had made a new AU. Just one. The first time in at least a month. If Error didn't know any better, he'd assume the paint-sucking squid was taunting him. It was days like these ones when he really rethought not having any grudges against Ink.
The new AU, Error discovered as he stepped through his portal, was literally completely empty. Sure, there was a ground and a sky, but it was just... flat. No life, very little color, basically no details. Something was up, and it wasn't just the obvious fakeness of the AU's 'Surface'. It was just one room. How could he tell, you ask? The four vents at the top of each wall that whirred to life the instant Error entered, and what else, he could taste the poison. He didn't know what kind it was, but he knew that he couldn't use portals or any magic for that matter.
It was a trap, and Error had walked blindly right into it.
It'd be more effective if Fate wasn't hellbent on keeping him alive, even if their precious child wanted him dead. Error laughs humorlessly. "oH, InKy, YoU rEAlLy OutDiD YouRSELF THIs TImE." He continues to chuckle as he drops down against the wall, an empty smile on his face. The comment sounded like adoration for the creator, and Error couldn't help but, well, admire the guy. He's so determined, even though he has no reason to. Ink was an alright leader, and even if he was a bit of a complete sociopath...
Error huffs, breathing in the poison in the air. "WhAT A WoRLd." He'd be unconscious for a few days at the most, so he might as well make it up like he's really dying today. Pretending he was dying was always one of Error's favorite past-times, when he had a few minutes and slipped into a darker place. He digs into a pocket he had sewn inside his coat, and pulls out a photo of the gang. His family. Error wasn't going to be seeing them for a bit. He wonders what he'll miss while he's out.
Not too much, as it turns out.
Nearly eleven days after Ink's plan was announced successful, Error came back.
Twenty AUs were destroyed in the span of two days, all copies or unfinished.
And then he crashed a meeting.
"yOU ThoUGHt ThE fuCkInG BuTterCUp PoISOn Was cLEVER, DiDN'T yoU?" Error growls as he holds Ink by the scarf, keeping him in a position that would have choked someone mortal to death. The Destroyer wasn't a monster to hold grudges, but stars damn did this piss him off. He doesn't really know why, but it was as good a time as ever to tell the truth outright. "wELl GuESS WhAT, InkY~?" Error could hardly resist turning around and sounding a bit flirty at the end of that sentence. What was wrong with him? Ink's face flushes slightly. Error sets a multicolored hand on Ink's cheek, loosening his hold on his scarf. He smirks. "yOu WeRE WrONG. aNd I GUeSs I wAS, ToO."
Ink suddenly looks confused. Confused. Error had been very wrong, indeed. Apparently, the Creator did have a SOUL. He just figured out how to block monsters from pulling it out. Error only puzzled this one out after almost witnessing Ink and Dream SOULmating. Eugh- don't ask him why he was spying on them, by the way. "yOu'Re NoT AS SOULlEsS As I ThOUGHT. aND HeY, iSN'T ThaT A TWo WaY STrEet? i MeAN, TwO SidEs oF OnE baLAnCE, CaN'T ExACTlY kEeP saID BAlaNCe IF YoU'RE aN EMoTIonlEss HuSk..." Error shrugs, dropping Ink with a 'thud'. The creator stares up at Error, bewildered. "... Balance?" Error stares back. There's a beat of silence.
"YOu... SeRIouSlY DoN'T KNoW?" Oh no. Error... definitely... absolutely did not think of this. His face drops into a reflection of his inner feelings. Pure, utter confusion. "I- hAH, uH, InKY, THaT'S YOuR BeST JoKE YeT." Error laughs nervously. He seriously hasn't been hurting someone that's as much of a victim as he is this entire time, right? "It's not a joke." Ink blankly states. Error starts to panic more. "oh my stars." He finally says, voice completely clear of any glitches, only having a little underlying static.
And with that simple phrase...
... Chaos ensues.
okay so. this was my favorite out of the three prologues I wrote, including the one I posted in PPP, so it's canon now ig
Chapter 3: 1: Not Much Has Changed, Except They Live Underwater
"So- so, you see, this one..."
"Yeah. It's really blue."
"It's like- well, not much has changed, except they live underwater!"
"... PJ, what the hell?"
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Ahh, the Ephezel... golden home to the chaotic evil and slightly less chaotic evil!
Error smiles warmly at the empty meeting room, before looking back to the notebook he was writing in. The meeting that had just occurred was probably one of the most chaotic, considering it wasn't a meeting, but a surprise party. For Error, of all people, celebrating the day the previously hell-like daily life of his stopped. Wow. A whole year since he was Enemy Number One... and he's helping make AUs now. Stars, was he glad everything was more or less alright now. A lot of the time he expects to suddenly wake up, despite the fact that he's barely ever slept. Worlds to destroy, injuries to treat. He glances at his scarred, crumbling bones with a sigh, and then continues writing in his book.
Every good rhyme starts with a "Once Upon A Time"
Long ago, far away, centuries before our day...
Humans lived, monsters roamed
Both shared earth and sky as home
Yet this peace came undone
War was waged and humans won
Forced below, monsters fell
Humans trapped them with a spell
Listen, children, to my words:
Ebott will eat you, beware the curse!
Monsters teeth go clack, clack, clack...
If you climb the mountain, you won't come back!
Human child, human child, won't turn around
Human child, human child - oops, they fell down!
Human child, human child, look out below...
down underground where the monsters go
He grins at the little clapping game he made up. At first, Error really didn't understand why Ink liked this storyline so much, but it's honestly fun to play with, he'll admit it. Making up variants for the simple tale always seemed to be fun, though he's considered making a completely new story once or twice. Ink probably did too. Error shuts his notebook, tucks the pen into the spirals, then puts the book away into the pocket inside his coat made specifically for it. He stands up, and leaves the meeting room silently.
As he walks the halls of the Ephezel, Error notices the distinct lack of anyone. That was an odd thing, considering the amount of people that lived in the Ephezel, those who had lost their AU to any sort of event, although never anything caused by Error. He was too careful to leave anyone but the Frisk equivalents. Thinking of that, he wonders how the SOULs in the Antivoid are doing. Well, they are just SOULs, they can't really think or talk or anything, but Error wonders if they'll ever glitch out like him. He doesn't want that, but it'd be good to take the SOULs somewhere safer if they could glitch.
Error halts as he hears quick footsteps behind him and panting. "ERROR!" Oh. Ink. He turns around with an unimpressed look on his face. "wHAt Is IT, iNkY?" Error asks as the editor screeches to a stop, catching his breath for a moment.
"Berry and Venus have gone missing."
Gradient never expected to end up in this situation.
Three prisoners, people to carry out his orders for him... well, he'd never expected to have anything or anyone, nobody but his brother. Oh, Paperjam. "Brother, please. You need to think about this," Paperjam pleads, a hand on Gradient's shoulder as the older brother gives him a cold, blank stare. "I have thought about this, PJ. Don't worry." He smiles slowly at his brother. "It'll be okay."
Gradient moves away from his brother, and toward his prisoners. Berry, Razz and Venus. The two Swap Sanses were the most important, but the Outer variant saw far too much. Razz snarls at him as he approaches. "Do you want a muzzle, mutt?" Gradient mocks. The look on the chained-up skeleton's face was always priceless when Gradient used nicknames that were meant for 'lesser beings'. "I am no mutt." Razz growls. "You sure sound like one." His captor responds, glancing at Berry and Venus with a sly, thin smile. "I hope you're all excited. Today's the day any of you are useful." Berry doesn't even look up, while Venus averts his eyelights. Razz hisses. "Stitches!" Gradient yells. "Could you go find a muzzle, please? I think the little mutt needs it!" An affirmative grunt is heard from the next room over, and the noise of multiple thin, bony limbs clacking on the metal floor.
The young monster chuckles. "Don't worry too much. We're going to have a lot of fun." Gradient's grin widens, and he turns to leave. "PJ, come on. You don't want to be in here for the next few hours." He beckons Paperjam over, nodding to Yanberry as he happily walks into the room. Paperjam looks warily at the prisoners, before giving them an apologetic look and leaving with his brother.
"WHERE IS BERRY!?"
The gang flinches in unison as they hear their leader's enraged yell. Shattered frowns. "I hate it when he gets all upset like this," He sighed, tendrils curling around him. "Nightmare never was much of a 'mourn and move on' type of guy." Dust shrugs, snuggling closer to Killer and Horror on the couch. He definitely wasn't saying he wasn't worried, no, everyone in the gang were fearing for Berry's life. Nightmare already told them that he could feel his emotions, all very negative, so the spunky little Sans was still alive and kicking.
They just didn't know where, nor did they know who kidnapped him, or... well, a kidnapping is the running theory. The emotions Nightmare picked up on have been prolonged, and are definitely the same as someone who's been kidnapped- hopelessness, fear, sadness- Shattered sighs again. He needs to stop thinking about it. They'll find him soon. He just has to stay positive. Everything will turn out okay.
Unbeknownst to any of the 'Dark Sanses', a shadowy figure giggles merrily from the rafters above. Their thick, lizard-like tail wags back and forth, white outline of their entire body shifting as they copy traits from each monster in the room. Their sharp, Cheshire grin widens. White eyes burn with glee as clawed hands and feet scrape into the wood.
Oh, this is going to be fun.
a'ight, it's not very much, but it's what I wanted to do with the first chapter
these chaps probably won't be very long each, maybe there'll be a megalodon of a chapter at some point who knows
anyway thanks for readin
(once upon a time lyrics were written by dearheart 42: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2znUtDl5gs)
Chapter 4: 2: Cue The Beat Drop
Ink might be hallucinating, Error could care less, and Z has had enough of their bullshit.
Meanwhile, an actor makes his presence known.
After all, what's the brightest star worth if it doesn't shine first?
"wE'Re In DeeP ShIT, FolKS!"
Ink gives Error a dirty look from beside the author, crossing his arms and narrowing his eyesockets. Z sighs beside them- oh, right, Z. The young Sans was from an AU called Peinetale, where most monsters despised the skeletons, blaming them for losing the war and abusing them. Badly. Z's skull (and all his other bones, for that matter) was cracked, scraped, cut and filled with small holes, and it was a big surprise he wasn't dust. He was sort of Ink and Error's therapist, trying to keep them from murdering each other and other sorts of problems.
"BeRRY aNd vENUS hAvE GOnE misSinG, aNd A KiDnApPiNG IS OuR RuNNiNg THeorY. TheY WeRE pRobAbLY TakEn OVeRnIGhT, SINCe They HAd BeEN SEen YesTErDAy. sO BasiCAllY, ThAT's ALl WE hAvE." Error explains, glitching mildly as he's obviously imagining what kinds of things Berry could be going through. Ink frowns-- he was concerned for the guy, too, for sure.
"Anyone who has any sort of information about this situation I'd advise to tell someone. It doesn't really matter who, as long as Berry and Venus, and anyone else, end up unharmed." Ink finishes, now shifting to wring his hands and smiling nervously as his eyelights scan the meeting room. Quiet conversation starts to fill the room, and Ink sighs. He slumps forward. Error pats his shoulder without looking at him.
Ink flinches as he sees something dark dash in the corner of his vision. He looks around, trying to stay discreet as he catches sight of the end of what looks like a tail disappearing into the shadows of the high ceiling. Ink blinks a few times, and nervously looks back down at the table. He's being paranoid. He's just being paranoid, because there's something new out there that could hurt his loved ones.
That's definitely a valid reason to be paranoid. That, and seeing just two small glimpses of the thing made him uneasy. He takes a deep breath. Ink shuts his sockets. It'll be okay. Nothing will hurt him right now. He exhales after ten seconds, and opens his eyes. This is fine. Everyone is fine. Everyone but Berry and Venus. Where are they? Stars, where could they be? The multiverse is kinda really big.
Error and Z mostly take over the meeting, trying to puzzle out what the hell might've happened. Ink eventually finds himself quietly watching the ceiling as the meeting drones on in the background. He knows there's something up there. Watching him. He can see its eyes, white and glowing and gleeful. Ink shudders, and makes eye contact with it. Its eyes widen, and it giggles. A mischievous noise, which seems completely unnoticed by everyone else.
It disappears completely, and Ink forces himself to look down at the table. It was his imagination acting up or something, nothing else. He was hallucinating, and though that definitely isn't a good thing, it knocks out the possibility of something having actually been there. Which was totally and utterly irrational. Ink sighs. Trying to convince himself he's hallucinating isn't worth it.
He's just praying to whatever's up there that everything will be okay.
"I don't know. I'm just... scared."
Error snorted from his seat at the kitchen table, watching Ink as he scraped the taco meat around in the pan. "wE'rE AlL ScAREd, PuSsY. SuCK iT Up AnD dEaL." Z sighed, glaring up at Error. "You could try to be a little more considerate about Ink's feelings." He dryly suggests, frowning. Z adjusts his teal-colored turtleneck, slightly tugging on the yellow scarf obscuring his neck as he does. "I know you're still in a 'frenemies' state, but this is getting ridiculous."
Error and Ink exchange a short-lived look. "z. I dOn'T ThINk It'S posSIblE fOR us TO GEt AlonG." Error sneers, glaring at Ink, who scoffs. "Hah, yeah right. I bet if you actually tried, we'd be on better terms." argues Ink, now leaning over the counter to match Error's glare. "yOU KnOW I'M TryING MY beSt! i'M nOt eVEN UseD tO YoU WALKinG InTo ROomS Yet, hOW CAn-"
"Stop it." Z growls, standing up. His blue eyelights fizzle out completely, and his teeth clench before he starts to talk again. "This is-- it's scary how much you two seem to just can't get along! Why!? I know you fought for eons and all, but it seems like you two could be a married couple with how well you know each other!" He yells, pausing to try and calm himself down. Z's eyelights reappear, and he looks between the two for a moment before reaching a decision.
"If you two are going to fight, then please do it when I am not around. I'm leaving." And with that, Z disappears in a blink of magic. Ink stares blankly at the spot he was just in, while Error's form fizzles and shivers, glitches becoming irritated and multiplying. The mutual thought was that they had completely fucked up.
"... wE FUcKEd Up."
He was laughing now.
Not loud, maniacal laughter, no, just little giggles of success. Oh, he'd made the dear Editor certainly paranoid! He was ecstatic! His claws made scraping noises against the wooden banisters as he watched the former 'dark Sanses' eat dinner, waiting for a moment to strike. His tail whipped back and forth with pure glee, Cheshire smile wide and unhinged.
"Stars-- who is so damn happy right now? It's physically painful!" Nightmare finally snaps, tendrils thrashing angrily. Dust shrugs, looking at Killer who gives him a poker face. "... Not me..." Horror murmurs. "... Just a little happy... this is really good..." He adds on as an afterthought, before stuffing more of the chicken into his mouth. "No yo, papá!" Fresh chirps, shades reading [HE][HE]. "I think I'm too apathetic right now." Cross denies, pushing the food around on his plate.
Lust just shrugs, continuing to eat. Shattered sighs, giving his brother a rather annoyed look. "It's not that bad. Really, just... calm up, Night." Nightmare looks confused for a second before huffing, and looking down at his plate. "I'm getting really stars-damned annoyed with it, though. Whoever it is, is being a smug little shit, and I am very over it." Killer snorts.
Shattered's tendrils droop. "Nightmare." He lowly warns. "Get over it already. It's not like it's a personal assault on you." Nightmare growls, and opens his mouth to say something, before another voice is heard, loud and clear and filled with confidence.
"No, no, it most certainly is not!"
Everyone stiffens. A giggle rings through the now-silent room, and the scratching of claws on wood is heard above. "It'll be one if you take it that way, though! Interpretation is everything, after all!" The speaker lowers himself from the banisters by his tail, floating tophat being adjusted so his face was visible. Two wide, spotlight eyes glowing bright white. A wide, cartoon-like smile and a shadowy form that seems to be a combination of a skeleton and a lizard monster. He giggles again. "Don't look so surprised!
"I'm only a threat if you don't like thespians!"