“hey, papyrus, i just wanted to, uh, thank ya fer everything you did,” Sans muttered, keeping his eye sockets directed at the purple-colored tiles of the Core.
Sans and Papyrus had met up with Frisk and Flowey at the MTT Resort. Initially, Undyne volunteered to escort them through New Home to Asgore, but something had occurred down in Alphys’s laboratory. This left Sans, Papyrus, Frisk and Flowey to meet Asgore. Sans was thankful Mettaton had allowed them passage out of the MTT Resort into the Core without a fight, mainly thanks to Papyrus.
“BUT OF COURSE, RED, THE GREAT PAPYRUS IS ALWAYS HAPPY TO OFFER HIS ASSISTANCE! WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITHOUT ME?” the foreign skeleton beamed
Dread flooded Sans’s soul at the idea of never seeing Papyrus again. If this all worked according to plan, and Papyrus returns home, how will they ever see each other?
Sans had grown to like - no, love - the other.
But there was no point in confessing now when it’s likely they would part ways. It would only end in heartbreak and unrequited feelings, neither of which Sans was willing to deal with.
“I HOPE YOU AND YOUR BROTHER MAKE UP WITH EACH OTHER!” Papyrus said.
At least there was good if this displacement plan worked.
The four of them continued their way through the Core. Frisk continued their pacifism throughout the Core, whispering “magic words” - abracadabra - to the Majicks and dueled against the knights.
Sans had to admit he was impressed by their bravery, though it unnerved him how quickly Frisk had done all this. It was as if they’d done it already, which given what he already knew about them being the anomaly, didn’t surprise him. What did catch him off guard was the words coming out of their mouth while he stood facing them in the gold-bathed Judgment Hall. Papyrus and Flowey had moved on ahead of them, as per Sans’s recommendation. The other skeleton didn’t need to know his other job as Asgore’s judge (and executioner).
“There’s something that I have not told you and the others. I think Flowey has an idea of it, but he never brought it up with me,” they stopped, expression serious and took a deep breath. “Sometimes, I feel another presence inside me, urging me to do things.
Sans blinked three times, mind already rushing with questions and possibilities.
“a presence? like yer conscience type of thing?”
The kid shook their head, brown hair bouncing off their cheeks.
“No. It’s more like a driving force within me, urging me to do this or that. It doesn’t verbally tell me what to do or anything.”
Sans’s magic flared into existence from their words, and they took a step back in response, raising their arms in a placating manner.
“Don’t worry, I won’t hurt anyone. Not like last time. I’ll make sure to do it right this time and get all of you out of here.”
Only after a good minute did Sans allow his magic to dissipate. He Checked them.
Why was their flavor text coming out like that? And why their red soul look blurry? As if there were actually two that were misaligned.
“kid? why’s yer soul like that?”
Their eyes widened in confusion.
Sans pulled them into an Encounter and exposed their soul out into the open. This time, it appeared entirely normal. He glared at the offending organ, assessing for any abnormalities.
“Sans?” A frightened voice cut through him, snapping his attention to the kid. “Am I going to have to fight you?”
Sans roughly shoved the soul back where it belonged and slipped his hands into his jacket pockets. He felt sweat trickle down his skull, sensing something -i-off.
“it’s nothing. c’mon, kid, we better catch up to the others.”
Even if he did end up killing the kid, they would simply Reset again. Not to mention, Asgore would have his head if he’d killed them without getting their soul.
Their tapping footsteps echoed throughout the stone corridors as Sans and Frisk made their way down the gray halls. At the end, there stood an archway leading to the Throne Room. A golden star glinted in front of it. Sans eyed Frisk like a hawk as their hands touched the twinkling object and disappeared. His eye sockets narrowed in suspicion.
Upon seeing the expression on Sans’s face, Frisk reassured, “I Saved so if anything horrible were to happen, I’ll be able to Reload to this spot.”
Sans nodded and noticed that Flowey and Papyrus were nowhere to be seen, immediately leading to him assuming the worst - Asgore had done something to the tall skeleton. He charged into the Throne Room to find Papyrus alone, standing in front of Asgore.
The boss monster towered twice over the foreign skeleton, his onyx armor seemingly to absorb all light into itself, and the tip of the spiked shoulder pauldrons glinted almost in warning. A scarlet cape hung majestically down the King’s back, it long enough to touch the ground.
“You will tell me how you’d arrived here and where the real Royal Guards captain went!” Asgore’s growled, his thundering voice causing the window panes to shudder.
“AS I MENTIONED EARLIER, YOUR MAJESTY, IT’S BEEN THEORIZED THAT I’VE REPLACED THE ME OF THIS WORLD, AND HE IS MOST LIKELY WHERE I COME FROM.” Papyrus stood straight and stared back at Asgore without fear, which only seemed to enrage the King.
In a flash, Asgore lifted his crimson trident and swung it across at Papyrus.
Magic sparked in the air as Sans prepared to retaliate, but Papyrus summoned a barrier of bones in the nick of time to block Asgore’s attack. He then took several steps back, allowing Sans’s blue magic to grip Papyrus’s soul and pull him back towards the entrance to the Throne Room. Asgore sent a vicious glare at Sans.
“To think my own Judge would betray me. I expected better of you, Sans,” the goat monarch sneered, and swung his weapon in a arch, scattering fireballs into the air like falling stars.
Bones sprung up in front of Sans and Papyrus, dissipating the fireballs upon impact. Sans turned his attention to the kid to see them dodging the fiery bullets, though the edges of their shorts were singed by the embers. Once they dodged all the fireballs, they gazed at Asgore with a look filled with determination.
“There’s no need to fight. You already have six souls.” Frisk took two steps towards Asgore with their hands folded against their chest. “I would be the seventh one.”
“WHAT? THAT WAS NOT PART OF OUR PLAN, HUMAN FRISK!” Papyrus declared.
Papyrus sprinted off to where Frisk stood, but was halted in his tracks when three glowing prongs hovered inches from Papyrus’s battle armor. Asgore kept his gaze locked onto the human.
“You would voluntarily offer your soul, child, without a fight?”
“Yes.” They paused and inhaled deeply. “But not before Flowey brings the other six here first.”
As if he’d been summoned, said yellow plant spouted out from the ground with six differently colored souls hovering around him. And that’s when they appeared.
White, blocky specks filled their room, and the environment itself seemed to warp with certain areas becoming discolored. Asgore froze completely in his place, his beady eyes wide with anger and mouth open in an attempted roar.
“FRISK, WHAT IS GOING ON? WHY IS OUR SURROUNDINGS SO FUZZY AND WHITE?” Papyrus asked, skull turning back and forth to survey everything.
“Something’s not right,” Flowey added. “Something is wrong. Frisk? What’s with that look?”
Sans’s sockets widened in horrified shock as the kid gazed blankly at the six hovering souls and drew out their own. Something black caught his eye. It was latched onto part of the kid’s soul. Without thinking and with his left eye socket flashing red and yellow, Sans swung his arms outward to separate the black substance from the red soul.
The most bizarre, otherworldly sound Sans had ever heard, a mix of shattering glass, static and robotic bellows, emitted from the human. Then all of a sudden, their surroundings became dead silent, and Sans found himself in never-ending blackness. There was no floor, ceiling, or walls.
“papyrus? kid?” he called out, peering around himself.
“RED, YOU ARE SAFE! THIS IS A MOST PUZZLING PLACE!” Papyrus exclaimed from behind him.
Sans spun around. Papyrus stood behind him, his head turning left and right and eye sockets wide with open curiosity. He even waved his gloved hands in front of his face.
“AT LEAST WE ARE NOT IN PIECES, NYEH HEH!”
Despite Papyrus’s jest, Sans felt sweat beading his forehead as anxiety grew within him. Wherever this was, there was an off-kilter aura around it - something unknown.
“WHERE IS OUR FRIEND, FRISK AND FLOWEY?”
Taking three cautious steps forward, Sans saw no outline of the human child nor the flower. Instead, he heard a pair of footsteps belong to two silhouettes. One was short and stout like him and the other was lanky like Papyrus. His soul jolted at the sound of a familiar, sharp voice.
“WHO’S THERE? REVEAL YOURSELF!” they called out in warning.
Immediately after, a tibia-length bone hurdled towards them. Sans waited a second too long to repel the attack, but Papyrus reacted in time, intercepting the bone attack at the halfway point between him and the two shadows.
Sans froze as his brother came into view, his dark armor, red heeled boots and ragged scarf the same as he’d last seen the other. Beside him stood a skeleton similar to himself, save for the blue hoodie, white undershirt, black track shorts and -- was that a pair of slippers?
It had to be Papyrus’s brother..
His bones were unmarred with no shark teeth and a softer disposition.
He heard his counterpart and Papyrus both utter simultaneously. Papyrus rushed passed him and scooped his brother up into his arms. A sharp pang rang out from Sans’s soul at the sight of this other Sans returning the embrace.
Why wasn’t his relationship with his own brother like that?
While the two chatted, Sans turned his attention to Boss, who awkwardly traced his right hand up and down his left arm, eye lights darting from Sans to the darkness around them. Sans shuffled a step forward and slipped his hands into his pockets.
He knew what he had — and wanted — to say. Would Boss accept it though?
“I AM SORRY.”
Sans snapped his face up to his brother, who stared back at him with open regret.
“i, uh, shoulda listened t’ya last time, boss. ‘m sorry,” the other Sans mumbled. Sweat poured down the sides of his skull.
“AND I SHOULD NOT HAVE YELLED AT YOU!” Edge had his gloved hands clenched tightly at his side.
Papyrus let go of his brother.
“SANS, ALLOW ME TO INTRODUCE MY NEW BEST FRIEND, RED.” When Papyrus saw Boss, his pupils twinkled into stars. “WOWIE, YOU MUST BE THE OTHER PAPYRUS! IT IS TRULY AMAZING TO MEET MYSELF!
Papyrus ran over to Boss, leaving Sans to study his double. Although the other appeared calm, Sans could tell from the way his hands clenched and unclenched in his pockets that he wanted to do something more invasive. Sans was glad the other didn’t.
Much to his surprise, his counterpart offered a hand. Sans was at the very least grateful for his taking care of Boss.
He grasped the offered hand and a fart noise went off.
Sans gaped in silence. Then, both Papyruses cried out in exaggerated rage, while his alternate self chuckled. A smirk crept onto Sans’s face, and before long, he joined in on the laughter.
“THAT PRANK OF YOURS HAS GOT TO BE THE MOST CHILDISH!” his brother huffed.
“INDEED, OTHER ME. MY BROTHER IS ALWAYS PLAGUING OTHERS WITH HIS ENDLESS PRANKS. IMAGINE ALL THE YEARS I HAD TO LIVE WITH THIS!”
“hey, don’t rib at the ol’ whoopee cushion prank.”
Maybe his doppleganger wasn’t that bad of a guy to get to know. Anyone who enjoyed a good prank or two was someone Sans could get along with, even if the pranks weren’t as… cruel as some of his own. He preferred the hand buzzer that sent a shock of electricity rather than a whoopee cushion, though it wasn’t bad.
“yeah, it’s quite humerus,” Sans added.
After all the good laughs died down, he turned to the others and asked, “what’s this place?”
“AND WHERE DID OUR HUMAN FRIEND GO?” Papyrus added, sockets sweeping across the dark expanse.
Without warning, two yellow flowers sprouted out in front of them. One of them had slightly larger eyes while the other had an angry scowl. Sans notice a brief flash of cyan and yellow from his double’s left socket flashed blue and yellow as soon as he saw the scowling Flowey.
Was he dangerous? It was hard to believe.
“We’re in the Save Screen,” the scowling Flowey uttered.
“FLOWEY! WOWIE, THERE’S TWO OF YOU!” Papyrus exclaimed.
“There’s no time to explain. We have something else to worry about,” his universe’s Flowey said, turning his petal-face straight ahead
Sans did the same and spotted two human bodies lying unconscious on the ground. One was the brown-haired child wearing the blue and purple striped shirt. The other wore a black and red striped shirt. Standing in the midst of the two fallen bodies was an indistinct, gray outline of a human, their face completely obscured by white glitches.
The strange sound Sans had heard earlier resonated around them, catching the attention of the other pair. A chill ran down his spine as white text appeared above the human shadow.
[Who knew it would end up like this just from a few changes of code.] The glitchy head shifted slightly but did not disappear.
“who the fuck are ya?” Sans growled, red magic flaring.
Much to his shock, Boss stepped in front of him and summoned a ring of bones around the figure, trapping them within it. Despite this, fear transfixed both flowers’ expressions. Sans narrowed his sockets in suspicion.
“you know ‘em?” He took a step forward and his brother followed suit.
“You finally deciding to show yourself? You’re not Chara! You can’t fool me!” other-Flowey hissed.
More text appeared in midair. [You are correct, I am not Chara. I am above even them; I am the one with full control over the human’s actions and more.]
What the fuck was that supposed to mean?
With a rumble, sharp bones erupted from the ground to pierce the shadow. They dissipated before even reaching their body.
“THAT DOESN’T ANSWER THE QUESTION. WHO ARE YOU?” Boss bellowed.
[Flowey clearly recognizes me, though I guess the rest of you aren’t coded to know of my presence and your true purpose.] The glitches covering their face dwindled until it only showed a gray blur of a human head. [I am the Player. You could say I’m the driving force behind Frisk’s actions. I also have a few other powers up my sleeve.]
The cluster of white spots expanded into a U formation. It almost looked like a grin.
“Look at what you’ve done!” other-Flowey waved his leafy appendages around the dark expanse. “This is all your fault! Do you think you are above consequences for all this damage? For overriding the script?! See what your curiosity has led to?!”
[Why shouldn’t I do whatever I wish to ease my curiosity? After all, none of you are even real! You’re from a game; all of you are just a bunch of pixels and code.] A shadowy arm pointed at him and his brother. [Both of them and their universe are even fake, not being part of the original canon.]
Indignant rage burst forth within Sans like a dam. Who was this asshole to say he, his bro and his world were fake?
“the hell’s that mean?”
“HOW DARE YOU!” Boss roared.
Was this the ‘other presence’ that the kid was referring to? The one controlling Frisk? Were they the ones messing up the timeline, always resetting them?
If they were, Sans couldn’t wait to kick their ass back to wherever they came from.
[Everything that’s happened this playthrough has been truly amazing! I wonder what else will change if I restart from the beginning?]
A black box filled with lines of white code materialized into existence. More lines appeared, followed by two brightly colored text emerging in the black space.
“no, stop!” Sans roared as he allowed his magic to hum in the air. A static-filled noise abruptly filled the area. An amorphous form materializing in front of the Player. It was the same one that appeared when the previous displacement occurred, someone who Sans vaguely remembered as the previous Royal Scientist before Alphys.
“YOU AGAIN?!” Rage transfixed his brother’s expression.
The goop monster’s attention was entirely drawn to the Player.His mouth gaped open, worsening the appearance of the two ghastly cracks running lengthwise down his deformed skull. Distorted cries flew out of his mouth while his glowing white hands signed furiously.
I̸ W҉҉̧I̶L̛̕͟L͘ N̢O͏T͢ AL̶L͘O͜W̕ A͟ W̸͘͢RE͞͏T͟C̵H̡͏E̡D͞ EX͢͜I҉̢S̢͡TENCE L̸IK̡͝͏E̵̢ YO̕U͝ TƠ̢͞ C̨̕O̧͠N̛͠T҉IN̴̨͘U̧̡͝E̶ THI̢S͘.̵͘
Error messages flooded his surroundings. YO̢͜͡U̷ MA̧͝Y Ơ͜͠N͢͝L̷͜Y͟ S͡EE U͢͠S̛ A͡Ş̵ B҉L̴O̷͜͡C͢K̶҉S OF C͡O̷͜DE,̵͠ B̸͢U̡͠T̕͠ W̧E̡͝ D̷O͏ EXI̧ST. I͘ W̶̕I͠Ļ̵L҉ N̷O̕͜T͜ A̛LĻO͜͠W YO͢U̷̵ T̛̕͞O EŖA̴̧̛S̨͘E͡ E̡͠VĘ͞R̢YT̛H͢I͏NG̨͡ T̶H͏A̕͜҉T͘ H͢A͡͏̶S̢̡ H̷Ą͠P͘P̨̡E̛N̡͢ED.̶̕͜
The glitches around the human silhouette exploded into strings of odd letters and numbers. [I will do whatever I want. You do not control my actions!]
A gray and white box that read “Windows Task Manager” appeared in the darkness around them. The Player’s disappeared, and everything froze
A bright flash later, they reappeared with the command box. Lines of code appeared in the box.
[I will Reset everything and start anew, and I’m not letting anyone stop me!]
A chill shot down Sans’s spine. Nothing made much sense to him, though he knew was he couldn’t allow this to occur. He grasped at his magic and summoned a blaster. Five others, likely from the other Sans, joined alongside his. They all fired at the Player, but it was not fast enough.
The [R͍̞̼̻̲͓̼̆̀͊̑ͬ̚Eͦͬ͊̆҉̮S̓̈́ͧE͎͉͉̗̘͋ͭ̇̿̍ͤT̡̞̠̘̞ͥ̓̓ͯ̄ͪ̋ͅ] flashed gold, and blinding whiteness blanketed the entire area.
Sans blinked awake, staring at the familiar ceiling in his room. He could make out the swishing of the trash tornado. After laying on his lumpy mattress for a few long minutes, Sans finally pulled himself up.
That’s when he realized there were far too many socks lying about the room. Not to mention the white shirts strewn in the half-opened closest. The walls were painted a color much lighter than his own.
This wasn’t… his room.
Suddenly, there was a loud knock on his door, ripping Sans out of his confused haze.
“SANS, YOU LAZYBONES! IT’S TIME TO GET UP!” his brother’s boisterous—
Wait… although the tone was similar, whoever knocked on his door was definitely not Boss. His brother stopped waking him up in the morning years ago.
Sans lightly crept towards the door and clutched the handle. He readied five sharp bones behind him and swung the door opened. A tall skeleton looking alike his brother but wearing white body “armor” that barely offered any protection, with a neat read scarf wrapped around his neck, stood in the threshold. His teeth were blunt and no scar adorned the left side of his skull.
“RED?! HOW DID YOU GET HERE?!”
Sans could only gawk like a fish until he finally found his voice.
“who the hell are ya? you ain’t boss!”
End of Arc II