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Like Sugar in Dark Chocolate

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Red

Sans could only watch as Undyne pulled them into an Encounter. Directional arrows assaulted them on all sides. Left, right, roll, jump, forward. The first volley was over. He glanced over at Frisk and Papyrus. The kid evaded the bullets with two clumsy jumps while Papyrus was using a body-length bone attack to block the attacks.

In less than five seconds, the second wave came. Thrusting spear attacks interspersed the slew of directional arrows. Beads of sweat formed and began to trickle down Sans’s skull. He didn’t know how much longer he could keep this up. Curse his crappy stamina. He should’ve trained more like his brother had suggested multiple times. The thought of boss brought along a sharp pang from his soul.

“WOWIE, DARK-UNDYNE! YOUR ARROWS FIRE FASTER THAN MY FRIEND’S,” Papyrus complimented.

“NGAAGH! It’s from all my expert training!” the fishface answered.

Sans scoffed and then snarled, “calm the hell down, will ya let us explain.”

Undyne paused and glowered at him, her one eye seeming to flare a bright yellow.

“Hand over the human, and I will back off!”

Before Sans could answer, Papyrus shook his head and proclaimed, “WE ARE ON THE WAY TO HIS MAJESTY’S PLACE. IF YOU COME WITH US, THEN THERE IS NO REASON TO CONTINUE FIGHTING!”

“The King has ordered the human to be brought to him. You are HELPING them, thus you are all traitors to the crown! Traitors must be eliminated!”

Of course his Undyne would still be loyal to Asgore despite how much the king of monsters had wronged his fellow citizens. And Undyne probably didn’t even realize she’s not in her (and Sans’s) own universe.

“believe it or not, this ain’t our home.”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean? Don’t try to weasel way out of this, Sans!” Undyne roared. She charged forward with a swipe of her arm.

Sans grunted as he sidestepped and ducked below five more arrow shots. One of them grazed the kid’s arms, causing them to stagger. Another volley followed after. Sans shut his sockets for a brief second to grasp at his magic. Like opening a shaken can of soda, it burst from his left eye. A wall bones jagged bones erupted from the ground before the spear arrows could hit Frisk.

“AHH!”

Sans spun around in the direction of the cry. His pupils widened in shock. Standing between him and Undyne’s crimson spear thrust was none other than Papyrus. The sharp blade had pierced through Papyrus’s right shoulder. His puffy shoulder pads seemed to have blunted the hit, though a quick Check revealed Papyrus’s HP to be at 450/680. Sans’s soul shook and thrummed at the sight.

“papyrus!” Sans blurted out.

With his expression grimaced in pain, Papyrus gave a wobbly grin and reassured, “NOT TO WORRY, MY FRIEND. A SHALLOW WOUND LIKE THIS WILL NOT STOP THE GREAT PAPYRUS!”

“I hafta say, punk, you have some decent skill and can take a few hits unlike that useless pile of bones behind you,” Undyne sneered. She twirled her weapon and directional arrows surround all three of them. “I’m afraid this will be the end of you three!”

Papyrus straightened his posture despite clutching at his injured shoulder. The kid took a desperate glance at Sans. It took less than a second for Sans to make a decision.

“grab my hand.” He offered both to each of them. They took it.

Sans sucked in a deep breath and pictured the final stretch of Waterfall. A split second of darkness, static buzzing and the sudden jerking of their surroundings later, Sans found himself and the other two sitting in a pool of cool water.

“THAT WAS QUITE A TRIP,” Papyrus exclaimed with a pained grimace.

“at least i got us outta there.”

“WHERE’S THE HUMAN?”

Sans peered around. Glitches still hovered in the air around them, at even higher quantities compared to before. He found the kid still unconscious on the water. Sans stumbled over and roughly shoved them.

“hey, wake up kid!”

Frisk suddenly spasmed and twitched, causing Sans to take a step back.

“WHAT DID YOU DO?” Papyrus roared in panic.

“i didn’t do nothin’! just tapped ‘em.”

Without warning, Frisk bolted up. When they opened their eyes, their iris flickered in color before reverting to its normal reddish-brown.

“ARE YOU ALL RIGHT, SMALL HUMAN?” Papyrus asked, checking them over.

“I’m fine.”

Sans quirked a bone brow at the abrupt dullness of their tone.

“We should probably get to Hotland before Undyne reaches us, if she even can.” Frisk peered around them. “The place is even more glitchy than before.”

A string of floating 1s and 0s fell in front of them all. Sans raised a hand to touch it, but was simply met with more static and white blocks.

“yeah, let’s get a move on.”

As the three of them started their trek onto the bridge into Hotland, Sans stared at Papyrus’s scratched-up shoulder pad. He should’ve been more aware of his surroundings. Or if he had better control of his magic. Then Papyrus wouldn’t’ve gotten hurt-- wait, since when did he care about Papyrus?

“how’s yer shoulder?” he asked, voice laden with guilt.

“NOT TO WORRY, RED, IT’S NOTHING A HEALING ITEM CAN’T HANDLE. THOUGH I DO NOT HAVE ANY ON HAND WITH ME RIGHT NOW.”

Sans glanced at Frisk, who raised their arms in a gesture of a shrug, expression neutral. A shiver shot down his spine.

“I used my last healing item against Undyne,” they answered. “I think we should head to Alphys.”

Sans caught a slight wince coming from Papyrus, which he filed away in the back of his mind for later.

“why’s that, kid?” He couldn’t help the growl from slipping into his voice. They’ve been acting suspicious since they’d gained consciousness.

Frisk shrank back a bit and answered quietly, “She can help us. Befriending her may help us win Undyne’s trust and get her to stop attacking us. They may have a connection even with the universe difference.”

Sans opened his mouth to disagree but never got a word in before Papyrus interrupted, “IT DOES NOT HURT TO TRY YOUR PLAN, FRISK.”

Sans sighed and grumbled, “fine.”

The three of them made their way across the bridge and into the smoldering heat of Hotland. The Hotland in this universe was not much different from the one back home. Alphys’s laboratory, however, stood in the distance, its walls glinting silvery white. It was definitely more presentable compared to the faded, grimy gray of the Royal Scientist that Sans knew. Hopefully she wasn’t as crazy, though Sans doubted it. He trailed behind as the three of them approach the lab.

“this plan of yers better work.”

Frisk simply shrugged and knocked on the door.

“HAVE FAITH, RED. I’VE NEVER MET THIS ALPHYS BUT I BELIEVE MY BROTHER’S A FRIEND OF HERS.”

Well that wasn’t too different. Sans used to be friends with his world’s Alphys too. It didn’t stop her from experimenting on him with an order from Asgore though. Hopefully this one had more of a spine, heh.

When no one answered, Frisk knocked again. Sans heard the faint scrambling of clawed or heeled footsteps, but the door remained shut. The pitter-patter trailed away.

“she ain’t comin’.”

“PERHAPS SHE IS BUSY,” Papyrus provided.

Sans was ready to turn around and leave when the door slid open. The cool AC air blew out into their faces. Frisk gave him and Papyrus glance and indicated at the white, linoleum-tiled laboratory.

“SHOULD WE GO IN STEALTHILY OR MAKE OUR PRESENCE KNOWN?”

Sans snorted. “stealthily.”

Frisk nodded. With no further discussion, the three of them entered the laboratory and tiptoed in. A large screen computer console stood on their right. The monitor displayed multiple split screens of camera footage throughout the Underground. One was of an ancient ruin door, Snowdin Forest, and Hotland. There were a series of two indecipherable static screens in between the footage of Snowdin and Hotland.

Sans let out a snarling curse and tensed his back and shoulders. Alphys had been monitoring them this whole time. All of a sudden, the entrance door slid shut and a robotic voice reverberated throughout the entire first floor.

“HELLO, INTRUDERS! STATE YOUR PURPOSE BEFORE YOU TAKE ANOTHER STEP FORWARD!”

Papyrus perked up. “METTATON? IS THAT METTATON?”

The robot voice paused for a brief second. “WHY, YES, IT IS I! YOUR LOVELY HOST OF MTT NEWS, THE METTATON QUIZ SHOW, COOKING WITH A KILLER ROBOT AND MANY OTHERS!”

“WOWIE!” Papyrus exclaimed as he ran about and turned his skull around the first floor. “I’M THE GREAT PAPYRUS AND I’M A HUGE FAN! TO BE ABLE TO MEET YOU IN PERSON WOULD BE SUCH AN HONOR!”

“A FAN?” there was a pleased uplift in the robot’s tone.

“YES! I LOVE YOUR SHOWS! THEY ARE FULL OF ACTION, EXCITEMENT AND DRAMA!”

“OHHHH YES, OF COURSE MY SHOWS ARE THE BEST!”

Sans raised an eyebrow and crossed his arms tightly in front of him. He had a bad feeling about this. Sure enough, a rectangular calculator rolled out on his one wheel from the other end of the hallway. Papyrus practically jumped out of his boots as he dashed over to introduce himself.

Sans’s soul gave a sharp spasm in response, and he narrowed his eyes. Frisk hesitantly made their way over as well, though they stayed several feet away. Sans stayed where he stood, glaring dangers at the dumb piece of scrap metal.

“WELL, IT IS ALWAYS A PLEASURE TO MEET A FAN SUCH AS YOURSELF. HOWEVER…” Mettaton threw up his arms, and all of a sudden, the linoleum floor shifted to allow for twin stage lights, two cameras and a blank blackboard to appear. Mettaton turned to the cameras. “OHHH YES! WELCOME, BEAUTIES... ... TO TODAY'S QUIZ SHOW!!! OH BOY! I CAN ALREADY TELL IT'S GONNA BE A GREAT SHOW!”

Papyrus clutched as his cheeks, eye lights shining like stars. “OH OH! I WOULD LOVE TO PARTICIPATE! TO BE ON NATIONAL TELEVISION! HOW EXCITING! ISN’T THAT RIGHT MY FRIENDS?” Papyrus turned to Frisk and then beamed at Sans.

Sans ignored the heat rising into his face from Papyrus’s bright smile and grumbled, “is a waste of time.”

“WELL EXCUUUUSE ME!” Mettaton tsked. “IF YOU DO NOT PARTICIPATE, THEN YOU CAN STAY HERE WHILE PAPYRUS AND I CONTINUE FORTH.”

“what?!”

“Uh, did he forget about me?” Frisk intoned to no one in particular, tilting their head.

“maybe fer the better.”

“EVERYONE GIVE A BIG HAND FOR OUR WONDERFUL CONTESTANT, THE HUMAN!” Mettaton rolled over and gestured with his arm to introduce Frisk to the left camera. They quirked a confused eyebrow but waved at the camera. “NEVER PLAYED BEFORE, GORGEOUS? NO PROBLEM! IT'S SIMPLE! THERE'S ONLY ONE RULE. ANSWER CORRECTLY... OR YOU DIE!!!”

“and what if we refuse?” Sans interrupted.

Mettaton spun around and his square panels lit up brightly. “THEN YOU DIE ANYWAY!” He turned his attention back to Papyrus and Frisk. “NOW, LET US BEGIN! BE PREPARED MY LOVELY CONTESTANTS! THESE QUESTIONS WILL STUMP EVEN THE SMARTEST MONSTERS! GOOD LUCK, PAPYRUS.” Mettaton winked at the tall skeleton.

Sans found himself shaking and cursing Mettaton in a million different ways.

The first question appeared on the blackboard in white text.

”What is the king’s full name?
A) Lord Fluffybuns
B) Fuzzy pushover
C) Asgore Dreemurr
D) Dr. Friendship

Sans snorted with derision and answered without hesitation, “asgore dreemurr, duh. what kinda lame question is that.”

Mettaton turned bodily to Sans and his screen flashed orange and red before settling back to its normal yellow. “YOUR RUDENESS COST YOU THE ANSWER, OTHER-SANS!”

A blinking red “INCORRECT” flashed on the blackboard.

“what a load of bull!” Sans snarled.

He wondered how the hell Mettaton knew he was not this universe’s Sans. Then again, they must’ve had physical differences. Had he met the other Sans before? A flicker of a short skeleton in blue appeared in Sans’s mind, before Mettaton’s announcement cut through the vision.

“UNFORTUNATELY SINCE OUR CONTESTANTS GOT THE ANSWER WRONG… YOU WILL ALL DIE!”

“WAIT, METTATON! THE GREAT PAPYRUS WILL NOT STAND FOR THIS! I SHALL CORRECT THIS ERROR WITH THE NEXT QUESTION!” Papyrus pronounced as he stood with his back and shoulders squared, chest puffed out and skull held high. Even his red scarf seemed to flutter behind him.

Sans’s red pupils widened at Papyrus’s confident demeanor. A pulse of heat shot from his soul, which he ignored.

“FAIR ENOUGH! ANOTHER CHANCE TO REDEEM YOURSELF AND OTHER-SANS. ALL THANKS TO PAPYRUS HERE, OUR NUMBER 1 CONTESTANT?”

“shut yer metal trap, tin can,” Sans muttered. Mettaton either didn’t hear it or chose to ignore it.

What is the prize for answering correctly?
A) Money
B) Mercy
C) New Car
D) More questions

Papyrus gazed at the question, stroking his chin in concentration. He soon perked up and answered, “MORE QUESTIONS OF COURSE! THIS IS NO DIFFERENT THAN MY SERIES OF PUZZLES IN SNOWDIN!”

“AND THAT IS CORRECT! WHAT A TERRIFIC ANSWER” Mettaton clapped his hand and waved in front of the cameras. He then slide to Frisk. “ARE YOU READY FOR YOUR QUESTION, CONTESTANT NUMBER THREE?”

Frisk nodded. The question blinked on.

“What are robots made out of?
A) Hope & Dreams
B) Metal & Magic
C) Snips & Snails
D) Sugar & Spice

“The answer is D,” Frisk answered blankly.

“WONDERFUL! I’M ASTOUNDED FOLKS! NOW WE MOVE ON TO OUR NEXT RUDE CONTESTANT!”

“Two trains, Train A, and Train B, simultaneously depart Station A and Station B. Station A, and Station B are 252.5 miles apart from each other. Train A is moving at 124.7mph towards Station B, and Train B is moving at 253.5mph towards Station A. If both trains departed at 10:00 AM and it is now 10:08, how much longer until both trains pass each other?
A) 31.054
B) 16.232
C) 32.049
D) 32.058

Sans’s pupils dilated. He recognized this question. He only needed to...

“TIME IS UP, DARLING!”

“what the hell?! that wasn’t even five seconds!”

“TOO BAD. YOUR ANSWER?”

“yer bias is disgusting.”

“WRONG ANSWER!” Mettaton looked at the camera. “DO YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS, MY LOVELY VIEWERS?”

A drumroll from nowhere echoed within the lab. The calculator snapped his fingers. Fog rolled onto the set, shrouding Mettaton within it. Mettaton’s laughter filled the air. It transformed from its robotic sound to a smoother one. There was a loud “Oooohhh yesss~”! When the fog cleared a way, a bipedal robot in pink arm, pink high heeled boots and silver armor-esque clothing stood proudly within the spotlights.

“HM, I PREFER THE SEXY RECTANGLE LOOK MYSELF,” Papyrus commented.

“i don’t prefer any of him at all,” Sans ground out.

“Shouldn’t Alphys be here by now?” Frisk asked.

“It matters not!” Mettaton flourished his arms in front of him. “Prepare for action!”

Yellow lightning bolts rained down at Sans, who retaliated with a burst of jagged bones.

“WAIT! STOP!”

But it was too late. Clouds of smoke exploded as the two attacks clashed. An overload of magic filled Sans. He jumped back. With a swish of his left arms a series of different length bones erupted from the tiled ground. Mettaton gave a shout as the ossified constructs hit him. A deep grunt left Sans’s mouth when another volley of bones appeared without his command.

CLASH!

A wall of cyan-covered bones protected Mettaton from Sans’s unbound bone bullets.

“I SAID STOP!”

Sans gasped, suddenly wrenched out of the encounter with Mettaton. Papyrus’s arms were wrapped around his torso. It was pleasant and familiar. Heat rose to Sans’s cheekbones.

“wh-what the hell?” he stammered.

“My, my, perhaps I might’ve underestimated you, darling,” Mettaton said.

“ya don’t say.”

The pitter-patter of running footsteps echoed within the lab. Moments later, the locked door where everyone stood in front of slid open to reveal Alphys in her white lab coat. As soon as her beady eyes fell upon Mettaton, whose chest armor was dented, and then Frisk, followed by Sans and Papyrus, she blanched. She clutched at her cheeks while sweat beaded her forehead.

“W-wh-what is the meaning of th-this?” she shrieked.

Everyone froze. Sans’s magic fizzled out as his sockets fell upon Alphys. The short yellow dinosaur had her mouth opened. She pointed a finger at Sans.

“Wh-who are you? You’re, you’re not Sans. At-at least, n-not the one I knew.”

“cause i’m not.” Then Sans mumbled, “some scientist you are.”

“DON’T BE RUDE, RED!” Papyrus scolded. He turned to Alphys. “HE’S A DIFFERENT SANS. NICE TO MEET YOU BY THE WAY, ALPHYS. I’M PAPYRUS!”

“You’re Sans’s brother.”

“INDEED I AM! JUST NOT THIS SANS’S.”

Alphys turned to Frisk and exclaimed, “And y-you’re the hu-human!”

Without even a smile, the kid nodded. Alphys clutched her cheeks tighter that nail indents were visible.

“I w-watched all of you from, um, my camera feeds.” The lizard glanced at her console near the entrance of the lab.

“Alphys, darling, you interrupted my show! My rating’s would’ve been off the charts!”

Just then Sans noticed that the spotlights and cameras had been turned off. Alphys scurried over to perform a brief inspection on the robot. The right shoulder pad had broken off, there was a dent in the left upper chest area, but Mettaton’s soul was still intact. Alphys sighed and then glared.

“It’s your fault for-- for attacking them without me here!”

Sans drew back from Alphys’s sharp tone. It sounded a bit too similar to the Alphys he knew, and he was not planning on staying if this Alphys were to go off. He’s had one too many ill experiences with that crazy lizard.

“And your battery's at fifteen percent! Go charge yourself!”

Mettaton tsked, got up, and disappeared into a door at the end of the hallway. Once he left Alphys turned to Sans and the other two.

“So, um, uh, wh-what do you all w-want?” the Royal Scientist stuttered. She drew her claws away from her face and wrung them together in front of her labcoat.

“WE WERE WONDERING IF YOU CAN HELP US!” Papyrus paced over to Alphys. She shrank back.

“W-w-with what?”

“Helping to get Undyne to stop attacking us,” Frisk answered.

More beads of sweat appeared on Alphys’s forehead.

“Undyne?”

“the undyne from my universe that is,” Sans added.

Alphys quirked an eyebrow. Then her eyes widened, and she gasped.

“Y-your, your universe? As in… an alternate universe?” There was excitement tinged in her tone.

“yep. like papyrus said. i’m still sans. just one from ‘nother universe. he,” Sans gestures to Papyrus, “calls me red to make it less confusin’.”

Sans didn’t know when he began agreeing to Papyrus’s nickname. It was familiar to him for some reason. Sans couldn’t be bothered with it.

“so you’ll help us?”

Alphys suddenly backed away from them. “Why sh-should I help you? You could be ly-lying about Undyne and-and the multiple universes.”

“what ‘bout me physically being here?!” Sans snarled as he threw up his arms in frustration.

“Undyne would never attack innocent people!”

“she’s from my universe. everyone’s meaner.”

Alphys shook her head furiously. “I don’t believe it! Undyne is, is great! She’s so amazing and strong and--!”

The Royal Scientist cut herself off and blinked twice. A deep red blush crept onto her face. With a squeal, she buried her face in her hands.

“PLEASE BELIEVE US, ALPHYS! THE GREAT PAPYRUS WOULD NEVER LIE! EVERYTHING IS TRUE!”

Frisk tapped Alphys’s shoulder-- since when did they get there?-- and whispered something into Alphys’s left year. The Royal Scientist froze initially, but whatever they said to her made her relax. Her shoulders loosened and a hesitant grin crept onto Alphys’s face.

“Ok! Wait here. I’ll get it ready for you.”

And without another word, Alphys dashed through another set of doors that slid shut once she left. Sans immediately reared on the kid.

“whaddya say to her?” he demanded.

“I gave her some encouragement,” They waggled their eyebrows, “to get her to agree.”

“what’s that supposed to mean?”

“You’ll see.”

“WELL WHATEVER IT WAS, I BELIEVE IN YOUR PLAN, SMALL HUMAN!”

They waited for Alphys’s return. Papyrus paced around the lab while Frisk explored the first floor. Sans also explored the lab, finding the sliding door which Alphys came out of intriguing. He pushed against it. It didn’t budge. There was also no number pad or unlock mechanism.

A memory flashed within his mind. One of sickly green hallways with dirty tiles. Strange, white horrible abominations lumbered in the distance. And then it was over before Sans could make light of the vision.

Sans shook himself out of his trance and peered around. Alphys was still not back.

He growled, “what’s she up to? bet she bailed out. knew we couldn’t trust her.”

“I’M SURE SHE SIMPLY GOT CAUGHT UP!” Papyrus cheerful voice sounded particular forced. His pacing also increased in speed.

Sans found the inexplicable urge to join him. Just as he was contemplating on why, Alphys finally came out of her room.

“It’s done!” Alphys waved a wrapped package in one hand and a sealed, white envelope in the other. She handed the items to Frisk. “If you g-give these to her, she may st-stop attacking you.”

Sans gaped, mouth ajar. Frisk put away the items into their inventory. Papyrus gave an excited hoot and patted the kid on the back.

“But I, um, I have a re-request.”

“WHAT IS IT?”

“Afterwards, do you mind, um, g-giving me more information on al-alternate universes?” Alphys shifted her head downward to stare at the ground. She tapped her shoes together. “The previous Royal Scientist… I found some of his n-notes, and it had some information on it. It’s-- it’s really fascinating, and um, I--I would like to learn more about it!”

There was a beat as everyone excluding Alphys glanced at each other. Sans eyed Papyrus who didn’t hesitate any longer to answer, “OF COURSE! IT’S THE LEAST WE CAN DO FOR YOUR ASSISTANCE!”

“A-and, um, w-would you like to w-watch, um, anime with me when you get back?” The lizard scientist gripped her labcoat tightly.

“THAT SOUNDS LIKE FUN!

And with no other words, their deal was made. Sans found this suspiciously easy but he doubted the other two would listen to his opinions. He, Papyrus and Frisk left the lab to head back into Waterfall to confront Undyne.