There are two moving conveyor belts. The one moving away from you has three pillars next to it, each of which has a button. There’s an electric barrier on the other side. Seems pretty self explanatory. Readjust yourself before stepping onto the walkway. Stick your hand out to flick each switch, hit the first one, miss the second, turn and run against the platform, stretch out and flip the one you missed, along with the third. The barrier dissipates.
Walk forward cautiously. Up next are a bunch of spread out islands in a sea of lava. They aren’t connected in anyway, but there is steam billowing from grates in the center of each island, which have red arrows pointing in north, south, east, west directions. … Hm. Walk up to the edge of the cliff and tap your foot against the white button that sits next to the grate. Several arrows change positions.
How are you supposed to cross? Nudge a rock with your foot until it wedges into one of the cracks on the grate. A gust of warm air pushes the rock into the air in the direction of the pointing arrow. It lands on the platform to the west and bounces off into the lava below. Gulp. Looks like this is how you’re supposed to get across… Swallow your fear and step onto the arrow. The steam lifts you, feeling almost like heavy ocean waves. Boots thunk on the platform to the west, the button is suppressed, the arrows around you change direction.
This is dangerous. And stupid. You sneer and gauge the gap between you can the island to the west. Just two long jumps and you won’t have to deal with this puzzle. Hike up your leggings, tuck your purse behind you, and crouch. Take two long strides toward the platform and you leap, soaring, shoes scrapping against the edge of the other platform. Oh no, you lose your balance, try to lean forward, the cliff edge crumbles beneath you— NOOO!
You’re falling, you’re falling, the lava quickly approaching, panicking, panicking, what a shitty way to die.
Something snags you in midair. Can’t breathe, a flash of red. Blink, Sans’s anxious face appearing only inches from yours. He’s got his arms around you and you’re both standing on the safe stretch of cliff that was on the other side of the puzzle. He saved you! Skelehands move to caress your stomach protectively, then shove at your shoulders so you stumble away. The baby responds with a gentle kick.
“ya stupid human,” he huffs, “yer gunna give me a heart attack.”
“You don’t even have a circulatory system,” you titter and continue walking.
He follows, kicking up red dust as he goes. “you realize ya almost died, right?” Takes a few long strides in front of you, turning to walk backwards so he can look at your face and force you to slow your pace.
“The key word there is ‘almost.’ You’re in my way, please move.”
“fuckin’…” He sounds conflicted. “i meant it when i said stayin’ here is tha only chance ya’ve got. come back with me. i’ll stay with ya this time, i promise. (your name), please.”
A realization. Stop in your tracks and furrow your brows. “… You aren’t crossing the barrier with me, are you?” He doesn’t respond or react other than a slight twitching at his frown. So many questions: why, what changed, don’t you hate it here, what the fuck did you remember you stupid fucking asshole skeleton? But you know Sans well enough by now to realize that you won’t get a straight answer out of him. If all he’s going to do is impede you, he’s useless. Tense up and say flatly, “then get out of my way.”
“here’s some friendly advice,” he says slowly, clearly, methodically, “if you keep goin’ tha way ya are now…”
His sockets go black.
“. . . y e r g u n n a h a v e a b a d t i m e .”
Those words echo inside your skull, a flutter of terror surfaces. Everything goes black for a fraction of a second. Then he’s gone.
Fears turns to bubbling rage— you scream and kick at the shoe prints he left in the ground, cursing his name and sending clouds of red sand into the air. Dig inside your purse until you find the velvet box containing the golden tooth he gave you. Chuck it into the lava below. Warm tears fall down your face as you watch it plop into the molten lake. Flames creep up around it. It’s so hot here. Smells like sulfur.
Then you ran. And you ran. You ran past the two guards who chased you earlier. You ran through every random encounter, through the scene Mettaton was trying to lure you into, all the way to the elevator with ‘L2’ flashing above the doors. So tired. The elevator was stuffy, but you still fell asleep when you sat down to catch your breath. Then you had a dream:
You’re a drink maid at a large casino. The air is filled with tobacco smoke. The skirt you wear is short. Monsters and human males occasionally pull at it when you hand them their drinks. You’re disgusted with them and this place. One customer ordered a bloody mary and complained that there weren’t enough eggs in it. You assured him that all the bar had right now was quails eggs. “I’m sorry, sir,” you said, “would you like to speak with my manager?”
The dream changes; you’re sitting at a roulette table. But you aren’t you. You’re the baby inside your stomach. As if everyone can see you, you wave your hand inside the womb and hold up a few fingers. Seven. Put everything on seven. A pile of purple chips is dumped on the red number seven. “No more bets,” the dealer says. They sound suspiciously like your father but all you care about is watching that wheel spin. It spins and spins, the white ball rolls and rolls. It bounces out of one spot. And then it lands in the seven space. “THA MUTHAFUCKIN’ JACKPOT,” the dealer screams. The table explodes with a plethora of purple chips. You laugh and direct your mother to touch them. Hands are shoved into the pile, but they’re hot, you’re melting, mommy, why does it hurt. Then you wake up.
You’re a sweaty mess lying in the corner of the elevator. There’s no cooling or any air flow in here. Wipe the sweat off your face with the sleeve of your Metallica shirt. Sniffle away some snot. You’re sore, but you stand anyway, hand on your swollen stomach as you grab the wall for support. You’d swear he’d grown during your sleep. Left Floor 3. The elevator whirs with movement. Ding! The doors open.
Drag your feet onto a maroon, metal platform. Still hot out here. But not as hot. Go down the path to the left. Notice a few spider webs, in every available corner and connection of metal. Don’t spiders like damp, cool places? Maybe these are like. lava spiders.
There’s a table blocking the path. A purple monster with long pigtails, six arms, and five eyes gives you a grin, showing off her dramatic fangs. She’s got a gun in one of her hands, knives in two others, one hand strokes through her black hair, and the remaining two count gold coins on the table. The gun spins around her finger on the trigger guard and stops when the barrel points at you. You freeze.
“Hello, deary~,” she chimes, “it’s 500G if you want to pass.”
The skeleton brothers only gave you food and clothes. You regret throwing that golden tooth away. “I-I don’t have any money,” you admit.
She lowers the gun and flares her nostrils. “So you refuse to pay, but you still want to pass?”
“… Yes?” you squeak.
“That’s fine, deary~” maybe she’s a merciful monster— “I’ll just take your SOUL instead!”
* Muffet traps you!
Spiders surround you, larger ones pulling web from their spinnerets, crawling in frantic circles around and above you until you’re encased in warm, sticky spiders silk. It smells pungent. Within only a few seconds, your limbs are trapped to your body and you’d fall over if the spiders hadn’t webbed you into a standing position. Surprisingly, they had the decency to avoid wrapping up your pregnant stomach. Well. Looks like your only options are to…
If she invites you over for tea, excuse yourself.
You struggle to escape the web. Muffet runs a knife across her mouth and giggles at you.
You don’t have any money.
You offer the only thing that might have value, your body. Muffet is so amused by your words that she gives you a discount!
“You’re positively vile, deary~!” she laughs.
That’s it, that’s all you can fucking do. Can’t fight her, can’t run. Is Sans nearby? If you called out, would he help you? Suck in air and bellow out the loudest, “HELP,” you can muster. It echoes in the vast expanse, bouncing off cave walls until it fades away. Muffet claps and spins the knives in her hands as she starts pirouetting towards you.
There’s a distant clank of metal that you’ve heard before. It sounds like Undyne in her full suit of armor stomping towards you. You fall even further into panic, remembering her white soul shattering, suddenly questioning if monsters leave behind ghosts. Muffet halts her dance and almost all the spiders shrink behind her as the footsteps approach.
“I SEEM TO RECALL,” the voice of Papyrus roars behind you, “UNDYNE GIVING YOU A WARNING TO SHUT THIS OPERATION DOWN.” He steps into your line of sight, fully decked out in royal guard armor, the visor of his helmet open, red scarf flowing in the breeze.
Muffet hisses, “the captain of the Royal Guard is dead. Her orders are null and void.”
“NO, I DON’T THINK SO,” Papyrus says simply, pulling out a tiny notebook from his breast plate to jot down a few notes. “PACK UP YOUR PARTY OF DELINQUENTS IMMEDIATELY OR I’LL BE FORCED TO IMPOSE MY AUTHORITY.”
You’re scared, you’re so scared. The skeleton gives you a sideways glance and fucking winks at you. You have no idea what that means and it only served you put you even more on edge. Muffet begins shouting at him in a low, gruff voice, much different than the high-pitched fluttering she directed at you. He seems to ignore all of it, focusing only on writing, his pen swirling cursive letters on the paper.
“I UNDERSTAND YOUR DESPERATION AND I DO NOT GIVE A SHIT,” he says as he tucks the pen and paper away. He turns to you and extends a gloved hand, delicately pulling a few fliaments of silk out of your face, “ARE YOU ALRIGHT, HUMAN?” His face is soft, at least as soft as a tusked, scarred skeleton face can be. You don’t respond. Of course you aren’t alright.
“Hey, stop!” the spider monster shouts, “I caught them, by law they’re mine!”
“I AM THE LAW, DEARY,” he mocks as he pulls a dagger from one of his boots. You gasp and cower from the blade, squeezing your eyes shut. The slick sound of a sharp knife running through string. The silk splits away from you as Papyrus makes one smooth cut from chest to feet, not once grazing your skin. Try to jerk away, but the adhesiveness of the web pulls at your clothing and the tiny hairs on your arms, yanking your ripped shirt open and plucking a few strands of hair. Papyrus laughs lightly, covering your nakedness with one hand and removing the webs with the other.
“This is bullshit,” Muffet says as four arms and two legs cling to one strand of web, “the king will hear about this.” Then she’s crawling up the white string of silk with her fellow spiders, disappearing into the darkness of the ceiling.
“Leave me alone,” you howl at Papyrus, sounding more fearful than forceful, as you shove his hand away to close your ripped top.
“THAT’S A SHAME,” he sighs as he takes a better look at your disheveled state, “SANS LOVED THAT SHIRT.”
When enough of the web leaves you, you bolt, not going very far, you run into another giant arrow puzzle.
“HUMAN, WAIT,” Papyrus calls out, beginning to approach you cautiously, “WOULDN’T YOU PREFER TO BE ESCORTED TO THE BARRIER?”