Papyrus woke up finding himself lying in a worn cot with only a thin blanket for cover. He appeared to be locked in some sort of cell, if the vertical metal bars was any indication. There was a heavy steel-plated door blocking the exit. He also noticed two thick metal bracelets wrapped around both of his wrists. They were heavy, as if he had stones tied around his arms, and gave no slack for him to slip them off. There was also something oppressive emanating from them, some sort of pressure on his entire being.
He soon discovered their function when he tried to summon a bone attack. A sudden, painful jolt, as if he’d been electrified by a current, ran through him. His magic sputtered out before the bone could be even formed.
Some sort of magic suppressing device. Why did he have them and where was he?
He remembered running out of Hariet’s shop after seeing Doggo break into the shop. He ran after the dog monster until he reached the forest with the differently colored floor tile. It was one of his favorite puzzles. But as soon as he arrived there, Doggo was nowhere to be seen and a strange bipedal robot with four eyes and multiple arms attacked him with yellow electric attacks. The rest was a blur.
Had he somehow gotten captured by the enemy? Then where was this place? He didn’t recognize it as anywhere in Snowdin. And who was that robot? The only robot back in his Underground was Mettaton but he always appeared as a sexy rectangle.
A buzzing sound suddenly filled the area, and the door suddenly slid opened. A short dark yellow lizard wearing a white lab coat stood in the doorway. Her round glasses each had spirals in them, completely obscuring her actual eyes. She wore a red-and-black striped sweater under her lab coat and had a clipboard in her hand. A crazed, face-splitting grin crept into her face as she fell upon Papyrus.
“You’re finally awake!” Her voice was high-pitched and scratchy, as if from disuse. “G-g-good! I was getting IMPATIENT waiting!”
Papyrus nearly cringed at the loud fluctuation in this monster’s voice. He did not recognize her at all.
“WHO ARE YOU?”
The lizard monster tilted her head up and down to survey him much like when he was at the Shop deciding on the best package of spaghetti. It made him feel uncomfortable and exposed. He tried to give her his best smile.
“Yes, yes, good body structure despite the low LOVE. Excellent HP and Defense otherwise,” she muttered.
Now this was simply rude, being utterly ignored. Papyrus decided to use a different approach.
“EXCUSE ME MISS, I AM THE GREAT PAPYRUS! IT IS NICE TO MEET YOU!” He puffed out his chest.
The lizard continued her muttering and scribbled something on a clipboard, ignoring him. The tall skeleton was about to shout another introduction when she cut him off.
“Where do you come from? Y-you SAY you’re Papyrus but I’ve never seen you until NOW.”
“I AM NOT FROM AROUND HERE.”
“I KNOW that!” the lizard monster screeched, her cheeks flushing red in irritation. She took several deep breaths to calm herself down. “Anyway, you asked who I am? I’m Alphys, the ROYAL Scientist for the KING.”
Papyrus couldn’t figure out why Alphys’s voice volume fluctuated so much. At certain points it would get almost as loud as his exuberant voice but with far more raspiness.
“IT IS NICE TO MEET YOU, ALPHYS,” the tall skeleton said. “IT WOULD BE REALLY NICE OF YOU TO LET ME LEAVE.”
A shrill shriek ripped from Alphys’s throat followed by an urgent, “I will NOT! I have told the KING of your presence, and he has granted me the PERMISSION to do anything I wish with you! To think you’re possibly from another UNIVERSE?! I c-can’t give up this OPPORTUNITY!”
Immediately after those words were said, lizard scientist took out a hand-sized black device that looked a lot like a cell phone. “Mettaton? I NEED you in here STAT!”
Mettaton? He works for Alphys in this world?
Papyrus eyed the opened door but was disappointed when Alphys began pacing in front of it, seemingly yelling at whoever she was calling. He heard something that sounded like a sigh coming from the phone. A second later, with a click of the device, the call ended. Alphys directed her attention back on him. He still couldn’t see her expression that well with her eyes obscured but her mouth was set in a firm line.
“C-come FOLLOW me.” When the skeleton didn’t move to follow, the scientist rummaged through the pocket of her lab coat and pulled out a small, square device with several buttons in it. “If you don’t FOLLOW me, I-I’ll be FORCED to use this!”
She pushed one of the buttons and a pained “OWIE!” tore from Papyrus’s throat as a painful shock ran through his entire body.
“Now FOLLOW me!”
Papyrus was not normally one to get scared, since a would-be Royal Guardsman never lets fear get the better of him, but that shock and Alphys’s strange behavior had him following after her without further protests. They passed through several rooms before stepping into one with a large machine resembling a skeletal goat head. Various tubes and wires hung out of it. Standing in the room was the robot Papyrus had seen earlier in Snowdin forest. He wore red and black, had two pairs of arms and eyes. The robot’s bottom-most set of arms were placed akimbo while the top pair were folded across his chest.
“This better be worth it! You’re making my audience wait and you know how impatient the citizens of the Underground are with their breaks!” the robot hissed.
“You’ll just h-have to DEAL with it!” Alphys answered back, gesturing Papyrus over to the bare examination table. “Prepare the machine, Mettaton.”
The robot gave an angry huff, then got behind the machine and pushed it towards the examination table.
“Get on!” Alphys ordered.
Papyrus didn’t move from his spot, still shocked at Mettaton’s appearance. “PERHAPS WE CAN TALK THIS OUT NICELY WITHOUT USE OF THAT. I AM GREAT WITH PUZZLES AND WOULD BE HONORED TO GIVE YOU MY HELP!”
“No! GET on!” the scientist reiterated with a scowl. “I need to do this for the KING. And maybe then, U-Undyne will finally NOTICE me!”
Another painful jolt had the tall skeleton climbing onto the table and lying down. Leather straps were quickly fastened around each of his wrists, ankles and neck, keeping him from moving. A bright, blinding light shined down on him. Nervousness bubbled worth within Papyrus as he watched Alphys and Mettaton loom over him. The robot appeared almost contemplative while the scientist scribbled away at her clipboard. Papyrus fidgeted with discomfort in his bindings, feeling his back beginning to cramp from the hard surface.
“Alright Mettaton, let’s BEGIN,” Alphys muttered, as she turned towards the machine and took out a thin tube with a needle-like end. “Draw out his soul.”
Mettaton hesitated for just a second. Then Papyrus suddenly felt an insistent tug at his soul. He twitched and resisted. Mettaton narrowed his four eyes. With a forceful jerk of his arms and a grunt of discomfort from Papyrus, a white inverted heart hovered above the skeleton’s chest. It pulsed in an orange light.
Papyrus gaped at his exposed soul in a mix of awe and horror. This wasn’t right! It was wrong to display his soul like this when it’s not a battle Encounter. There was a sharp, stabbing pain as the thin tube and various other wires were pushed into his soul.
“Injecting zero point five milliliters,” Alphys muttered. Her mouth cracked to a wide, almost crazed, grin as she glanced down at him. “Let’s see if you can TAKE this.”
Before he could even make sense of what was happening, excruciating pain that which he’d never felt before traveled through his soul and to the rest of his entire being.
An agonized scream ripped out of him. Fire ran through his bones and engulfed his soul. It was unbearable. He just wanted all this pain to end! Black spots lined his vision, and he gladly accepted the darkness.
The next time Papyrus blinked open his eyes, he found himself back in the cell, lying on the flimsy cot. He tried to sit up but gave up after searing pain ran through his bones. As his hazy memory of what had happened came back to him, he checked over himself and found nothing unusually different besides his ache. Even his soul appeared normal, though it pulsed a deep orange every now and then.
The tall skeleton sighed as he fell back in the cot. He normally would be out and about, trying to puzzle his way out, but found it simply too tiring. He was so distracted that he barely even noticed Mettaton staring at him through the bars.
“NYEH!” he yelped in alarm. The robot jumped up from his loud outburst as well. The two stared at each other for several minutes before Papyrus finally calmed down. He took in several deep breaths, and replied, “GREETINGS, I’VE ALWAYS BEEN A FAN, METTATON!”
The robot’s four yellow eyes squinted in suspicion but didn’t respond. Instead, he turned around and left. Papyrus frowned, feeling disheartened at the rejection. A few minutes later, the lizard monster came scurrying back in, a clipboard in her hand.
“How are you feeling?” she asked with barely any care evident in her tone. She withdrew a pen from her pocket and gazed at him clinically.
A rebellious spark ignited within the tall skeleton, and he almost thought about keeping silent. With how he was being treated, why should he answer this monster’s questions?
The scientist’s lips were set in a firm line, “Well? I’m WAITING for an answer!”
“YOU ARE VERY RUDE!” Papyrus answered back. “WHY SHOULD I GIVE YOU A RESPONSE?”
“L-look HERE, I’m only trying to do my WORK!” Alphys looked offended. “If you do not ANSWER me, I’ll assume you’ll be FINE for a second dose.”
Papyrus shuddered as he remember the unbearable pain and quickly shook his head. “MY BONES ACHE, AND I’M TIRED.” He couldn’t keep discontent from trickling into his voice.
“I see.” The sound of her scribbling reached Papyrus, who decided to lie back on the bed. “And you don’t feel… UNSTABLE anywhere? You look to be completely solid.”
The sentry responded with a, “NO,” not really understanding why he should.
“All right. T-that’s it for now. Keep watch of him, Mettaton.”
Papyrus heard the metal door open and close, not bothering to look up from his place in the cot, a strange sense of melancholy took over him. He wondered what Red and the human were doing. He hoped they were doing well without him. He wanted to see them again, to make sure nothing bad happened to them.
Most of all, he missed his brother. He even had to admit that he missed his terrible jokes, his bedtime stories. It’s been so long since he’s seen Sans. Was his brother taking care of himself? Papyrus knew how much Sans depended on him. Though the older sibling never admitted it to him, Papyrus knew. It didn’t take long for sleep to eventually overtake him.
He stood in pitch darkness. There was a certain stillness in the air, almost stifling. Lancing pain shot out from his right leg.
A strange, indecipherable sound reached him. Standing in front of him was a formless black blob with a white, cracked, grinning face. Glowing white hands with a circle in their center floated next to the goop monster and were signing to him. They were familiar. In the back of his mind, Papyrus was sure he should’ve been able to recognize the hand signals. But stuck where he was, it was all a mystery to him.
“I CANNOT UNDERSTAND YOU,” a voice rougher and sharper than his own came out of his mouth. He also dressed in a black and red attire; it was very similar to the one skeleton that he’d been pretending to be. Red’s brother.
Was he somehow in the other Papyrus’s mind?
When he tried to vocalize a question, only more static filtered around. Without warning, thick black tendrils lashed out at him. Papyrus just barely jumped out of the way of the attack. A rush a white half-faded bone attacks shot out towards him. They appeared uneven and looked almost like the “glitch” that had been appearing around in this Underground.
Papyrus jumped to avoid the attack but found it impossible. With a gasp, his soul turned heavy with the same blue attack he was so familiar with. Stuck as he was, the sentry barely jumped in time before a tendril came hurtling towards him. He held up his arm to block the attack but it simply smashed right into his right forearm.
He let out a scream of agony as he felt his arm break.
The formless monster turned his attention away from him, eliciting more static noise. The white hands hovering around him signed something else. Papyrus heard the hum of magic in the air and turned around. His breath caught in his throat.
There, standing a few feet away, was his brother. Still in his blue hoodie, track shorts and slippers. Blue and white bones hovered around him. Papyrus wanted to run over but—
”Wake up.” A voice suddenly called to him.
What? Who was that?
Papyrus shot up from his prone position and found himself back in the familiar cot. Passed the bars, with four yellow eyes directed pointedly at him, the skeleton saw Mettaton staring back at him. The robot had both pairs of arms crossed in front of him.
“Finally you’re awake,” Mettaton huffed. “You were making a racket with all your screaming. As wonderful as that sounded, it was getting annoying. At least with you now awake, you can provide me with some other form of entertainment.”
The sentry found nothing in his situation entertaining. But he couldn’t be upset. In fact, he should be proud to finally catch the attention of the robot. Maybe he could convince the multi-limbed metal monster to help him escape.
“WHY THANK YOU, OF COURSE THE GREAT PAPYRUS IS AMAZED BY YOUR EXCELLENT SENSE OF TASTE AND HIGH STANDARDS!”
Mettaton responded with a puff of his chest and a barely suppressed smirk. “I do not know about your so-called greatness, but yes, I do have high standards. I have to in my line of work.”
“AND WHAT DO YOU DO? FROM WHERE I COME FROM, YOU ARE FAMOUS FOR YOUR VARIOUS SHOWS, COOKING WITH METTATON, GAME SHOWS WITH METTATON AND—”
The robot suddenly gasped in mocking horror and disgust, “Cooking? Yuck! I would never put such vapid things in my performances. No, I need excitement, adventure, violence, death! Preferably of the violent kind! I only offer the best entertainment for the whole Underground! Me, Mettaton!” He swept his hands out in a flourish.
“The only problem, the audience is fickle and impatient. Because of YOU being here, taking up my precious time, I cannot be where I want to be. The stage!” The robot kicked out a long leg in frustration.
The descriptions of the shows in this world had sweat forming on the back of Papyrus’s skull but he was not one to be easily deterred. “THEN HOW ABOUT LETTING ME, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, ON YOUR GRAND SHOW?”
Mettaton gaped at him with wide eyes, and then burst into condescending laughter.
“You, being a part of my show? Not a chance! What can you possibly do?”
“THE GREAT PAPYRUS HAS MANY TALENTS!”
“Hah, as if!” Though this was said vehemently, Papyrus caught the uncertainty tinged in the response.
The sentry then turned his skull away to the side and said in a disappointed done, “IT IS ONLY TOO BAD THE UNDERGROUND WILL NEVER KNOW OF WHAT GREATNESS I CAN BRING. WHO KNOWS, THINK OF ALL THE WONDERFUL VIEWERS YOU’RE MISSING! BUT IF YOU ARE HAPPY WITH THE CURRENT STATUS OF YOUR SHOW, THEN I’LL JUST STAY HERE AND WASTE MORE OF YOUR TIME.”
Mettaton’s many eyes narrowed briefly. He took a single large stride until his face was only an inch from the bars. “And you will guarantee that l will gain more viewers by allowing you onto my show?”
“BUT OF COURSE! I AM A SKELETON OF MY WORDS!”
The show robot surveyed him for several minutes. Papyrus really hoped his masterful convincing techniques would turn this monster around. It’s already worked for Red after all.
“I am all about providing entertainment, so if you can, then I will accept. HOWEVER, if my viewership does not change, then I will bring you back here and ensure your stay be as painful of an experience as possible!”
Papyrus was banking a lot on his ability to entertain people but he believed in himself, just as how Sans had always believed in him. Perhaps he could provide a change of taste within the citizens in this kill or be killed universe. The thought filled him with Determination.
Mettaton gave a quick sweeping glance outside to make sure Alphys wasn’t near, and then opened the door to the cell. He was even nice enough to remove one of the magic suppressing bracelets, though he kept the right one on for insurance that Papyrus won’t try to escape.
The two monsters made their way up to the first floor of the labs. The robot had told him that Alphys would be currently spending her off time either watching violent anime or fantasizing about Undyne. Sure enough, the Royal Scientist did not show up at all in the first floor of the lab. Papyrus was about to reach the door when he sockets fell upon a huge console screen.
What was this? Is this—?
Each individual square block displayed a different area of the Underground.
Somehow, Alphys had set up cameras all over the place. That must’ve been how she knew where to find him. That was one puzzle solved.
“Oh? Would you look at that, I guess this timing is simply perfect!” Mettaton stated with excitement evident in his tone. “It looks like your little friends have arrived just in time for them to join you as well!”
Sure enough, in one of the bottom-most screens, Papyrus spotted Red and the human, with Flowey in tow.
A firm hand suddenly rested on his shoulder. He turned and saw Mettaton standing behind him, leering at him with such intensity that it almost had him wanting to shrink back.
“I do hope you and your friends will provide the Underground with enough entertainment to make me a star!”