The Return of Talking Time

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Old 05-05-2017, 12:03 AM
Volt Alessandro Arcade's Avatar
Volt Alessandro Arcade Volt Alessandro Arcade is offline
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----RECOVERED DATA FRAGMENT FROM THE RESEARCH LOGS OF SPACE TIME CONTINUUM (STC) AGENCY FIELD AGENT AND FOUNDER, DR. VOLT ALESSANDRO ARCADE-----


Sub-Entry 291: "One Last Look Around Miranda City":



I'd spent a lot of time in the Underground by now. According to my instruments it's been a few months. Frisk has had a while to think about finishing the "game". I'd come to the conclusion it would be any day now that they'd try do so. I had to be there to make sure it went well.
I'd grown to like it here, but I knew I'd have to let go of my attachment to it eventually. It really was hard to let go.


But after all this time...the lifetime...the many lifetimes I'd come to Fontraile...
I was hurt. Really hurt by them. Even my own family didn't have time for me. Maybe I was blind to something and maybe I did take it too personally. But really...maybe they were the ones who took it too far, not me. They all know what kind of life I live. What being an immortal space-time-dimension traveler entails.


I'd blown off steam a long time ago.


I should at least give them another chance before "The End".


Yet...why was it...that when I tried to reflect on it...I felt...?


I took the Delorean back to town, but I kept it hovering high enough so I could slip in and do some reconnaisance. If I was back in town, I wasn't going to tell anybody. I wasn't about to walk face first into an act, if everyone was in on the secret Asriel was keeping.


How had my suspicions on my family and friends grown so much? This...had to be part of Madam Fate's scheme somehow. I'd had my life toyed with in similar methods in the past either through her mischief or through the proxy of the Council...sometimes even directly through...him. I'd name dropped Adonis several times during the course of this collection of logs. Why be subtle about it, now?


I was taking after Vi, too much, using this many resources to listen and look in on them from afar. I filtered the conversations for any mention of me. Time passed and I had nothing. Lack of evidence is frustrating. And really...what I was doing wasn't healthy or particularly ethical. Definitely in bad taste. I was disgusted with myself...I was becoming Al Dente. I knew it but I still went through with it, accepting the consequences. Wasn't I owed at least an explanation, though?


When nothing turned up by the end of the day, I gave up the long-range method. I would have at least wished to catch an instance of my own twin daughters say "when is Daddy coming home"? It didn't look good.


This much time. My crew at least had to know I left on bad terms. I wasn't exactly expecting them to have comfort or apolgies ready should I make my presence known. But...someone should at least try to resolve this, right?


A day or two passed and I'd wandered around, with the Hazard Card still active. Back in the Underground, I did this same proceedure as a social experiment and gotten numerous instances of people, especially the Boss Monsters, talking about me and wondering when I'd return. Here...I couldn't even find one person who even said my name just offhandedly. Yeah. I think I'd fallen about into the same psychological pit as Alphys.


I watched Bunnie spend so much time with Asriel. It was like he didn't even notice I was gone. I'd already practically accused her of stealing away our friendship. I wanted to apologize for it...but not if I wasn't going to get an apology in return. For all the loyalty she'd shown me...did she really just trade it in for the loyalty to the active UCIAT commander? I wasn't going to hate Miles for that, even if it was true. I sure wasn't going to hate Asriel for forgetting me so easily. How did I really feel about Bunnie at this point?


"So you've returned."


Oh. Right. NInja with psychic powers.


"I'm not expecting a Hello from you." I said as I yanked the card.


"You remain as bitter as when you left."


"And you remain as beligerant as when I last saw you." I wasn't imagining her tone. She was DEFINITELY attempting to keep me away.


"Is that all you have to say for yourself?"


"I was hoping to grant you mercy, but I can see it would be wasted."


"Again, you remain blind to what you don't understand."


"Yeah. I do. Funny how someone who doesn't have psychic powers just can't pry the understanding out of the other person's head. But they can do the same to you."


"You would dare imply such a thing?"


"I'm just stating the facts. Why don't we discuss if Goat Son has any desire to see me?"


"You need not concern yourself with that."


"So that's how it is."


"After all this...how do you really feel?"


I tightened my fist and turned away.


"I can't feel...ANYTHING." I walked away from her making sure I deliberately turned my back on her. The same way she turned her back on me.


"VOLT!"


"At least you had the decency not to call me Commander. Don't bother telling Miles I was here. Furthermore...if you mention anything about this conversation to Asriel..."


"You are in no position to make demands."


"Am I?"


I turned, my hands crackling with electricity. Her nanites made her frighteningly more vulnerable to electricity than anyone else in town. All it would take is one jolt and her pain would be as excruciating as my own. But...no. She wasn't worth it.


"I never would have imagined you'd decide his path. I guess if his home world is going to lose a prince, it's going to gain a time-traveller."


I stormed off and took the Time Machine back to the Underground.


"...he was here, wasn't he?"


"He was."


Asriel looked off to the side.


"It's for his own good. And ours. It will work out in the end."


"Just a little longer..."


----RECOVERED DATA FRAGMENT FROM THE RESEARCH LOGS OF SPACE TIME CONTINUUM (STC) AGENCY FIELD AGENT AND FOUNDER, DR. VOLT ALESSANDRO ARCADE-----


Sub-Entry 292: "Back to New Home"



My mood was shot. I was in no shape to be attempting this. This was a mistake. It was a mistake and I was making it willingly.


What's left to say. I'd finally gotten word that Frisk had chosen to finish what they started.


I wanted to join them in just to encourage them and alleviate any anxiety before meeting Asgore.


I had so many questions I wanted to ask them afterward.


"How many Frisks were there before you? How many times did you reincarnate? Did Chara-Wraith really collect the souls of other Frisk incarnations? They hadn't collected the previous Genocide Frisk's soul. But why the sudden change to a Pacifist Frisk without explanation if it WAS the same soul?"


But mostly...


"Why so many resets?"


I had used the Save Marker as a Homing Beacon. It auto-programmed the Time Circuits to arrive at that point, outside of New Home.


As soon as I had landed in the Underground again...I sent the Time Machine back to the X-Vault. The only way back now was if I went crawling back to S.T.C. and requested the techs beam me out of there.


Kommand had gone silent. I had no more lifelines. Nothing but my own immortality to fall back on.


"Why did it come to this?"


I was ready to make the Underground...and perhaps the surface world my new home. The True Pacifist ending awaited.


I went back inside New Home. I should have taken a load off. I should have cleared my head. Wow. Getting pretty self-absorbed, Volt.


Just one more sentence starting with "I" and you could safely consider your ego out of control. Think about the bigger picture.


I headed for the basement...and noticed the locks on the chain had been undone. That meant...


"Oh crap...when did Frisk get here?"


Frisk had a headstart. And I let it happen. If I had never returned to Miranda City and confirmed I was forgotten and thrown away like trash...I could have been here ahead of them.


I couldn't leave it up to chance. If Madam Fate tampered with the plan somehow, this Pacifist Ending chould somehow be aborted. It was just the kind of thing she'd do for her own amusement. Not for any grand purpose of reason that mortals understood. No. It was pretty much the same as why Lord Beerus destroyed entire worlds on a whim. That's what Gods of Destruction do. There's no logic to be found, no wisdom to behold; and no reason it had to happen.


"Frisk, damn it! Don't you dare do something stupid! Asgore, don't you dare strike them down or let them strike you down!"


I wasn't expecting any calls from the other Boss Monsters. Should I have? No...this would happen only after the reload and afte Frisk visited the True Lab...and got that strange message from.......someone before the Elevator made its last stop.


Dashing down the corridors drew serious wind; that is it would easily mean being out of breath by the time the doors opened up into the path to the Judgement Hall. I paid no attention to the monsters who were telling Asriel's tale. If anything, their story was making things worse.
It was like getting salted rubbed in the wound.


The paths up and down and around the walkways and towers of the Castle finally led to that one place. Every time I'd come down this way, it would be empty.


Just my luck. Now was the first time it wouldn't be. For there he was...in my way.


----RECOVERED DATA FRAGMENT FROM THE RESEARCH LOGS OF SPACE TIME CONTINUUM (STC) AGENCY FIELD AGENT AND FOUNDER, DR. VOLT ALESSANDRO ARCADE-----


Sub-Entry 293: "The Judgement Hall":



Sans.


After all the times I came through here...there he was.


"So--"


"You know. It was a fun ride."


"Don't tell me you're giving up--"


"Shhh. I'm talking here. We'll get to that soon enough. Why don't you get comfy...or don't."


"Sans. The human--"


"...will be fine on their own. But uh...that issue that you're implying will be addressed. They've certainly had their fun. Playing around with this world like a big sandbox...meeting and greeing...sometimes defeating us."


Okay. He was definitely hinting at the other timelines...that last crack was most assuredly about the genocide runs.


"So you're just going to stand here and--" THen it hit me what he said.


"...You've already judged them. Then went ahead to Asgore."


"Hey, give the wolf a prize."


"Must you be a jokester about everything?"


"It takes practically no effort to make a joke about the world. And hey, no one spares effort as much as me."


"Well if that's the case, I'll be on my way--"


"No. I don't think you will."


"Excuse me?"


"What, you fart or something?"


"Hilarous."


"Let's cut the crap. I appreciate that you kept the old lady behind the door happy and you certainly put Paps in good spirits. And while you did fight Undyne, you did at least save that armless kid so. And then there's the Royal Scientist. On top of that you cheered up the King so. I guess you didn't gain any LV."


"Am I being judged?"


"Call it what you will."


"I've met the requirements for--"


"Hold on a minute. You have, however been putting on quite an act. Got a lot of people wrapped around your finger."


"Now hold on--!"


"Hold onto what? There's nothing in this hall to grab."


"Sans..."


"Getting to the point." Sans finally stopped with the jokes. "How should I approach a time-traveller?"


Ohhhh. Smart skelly.


"I didn't come here to cause trouble."


"And yet so much trouble has gone on around here."


"Hey. If I hadn't intervened, we'd be down a Royal Scientist, and I'm pretty sure the a lot of boss monsters--your brother included--would be dust right about now and Chara would...!"


"Yeah, let's talk about the brat. She seems to be missing. Word is...you took her off world and disposed of her. What a pal, huh?"


"Sans, I know you're not being vindictive. Do you really carry that much of a grudge for them?"


"After so many timelines dealing with her...him...them...it's hard not to care anymore."


I narrowed my eyes.


"What do you want from me, Sans? I'm an over-glorified librarian for an agency, trying to do the right thing, despite them being content with me watching grass all day and erasing the night a senator got caught with lipstick on his collar; and it wasn't his wife's."


"But you have been abusing the timeline just as much as the kid. For selfish reasons, right?"


"You don't know what you're talking about--"


"How's the little goat?"


"!!!"


"And before you answer, I'm not going to accept that you did this all for him. Maybe you did and maybe you didn't. You still took someone out of his timeline and left everyone else to die. That's kind of a dick move.


Still...who'd thought that you've been caring for the Prince of All Monsters all this time?"


"Did you learn about this from Gaster? You know you're a real soft spot wound for him. I wonder if he's the same for you?


"Wrong thing to say."


"So. What. You going to lecture me on how I shouldn't try to save anyone if I can't save everyone? I think you have me confused for a god. I have limits. I acted within the boundaries of what I could do given a timeline that was coming to an end. I. Saved. SOMEONE."


"Maybe you shouldn't have saved anyone."


"WHAT?"


"I did say maybe. It would have been a choice. You could have made it."


"You've been talking to the other Sanses in the other timelines...and I'm not even sure how you did it."


What he implied about not saving anyone...this stunk of Geno Sans' timeline. Was he really prepared to conclude that there was no better way to save Papyrus than by letting it all come to an end? Finally putting an end to the resets? No. I wasn't about to hear this crap!


"Timelines shifting to the left...and to the right. ANd then all of a sudden it all just comes to an end."


"Don't. Just don't." I pointed at him. "Don't you dare say this is my fault."


"No. But you're still an anomaly. You still don't belong on this world."


"So this is your reasoning for distrusting me? Because I'm a time-traveller who saved a child's life and raised him somewhere else? I'm here on the authority of an organization that's been established for a lot longer than you can fathom. On whose authority do you think you can pass judgement on me?"


"You. The weed. And the kid have things to answer for."


I wrinkled my snoot. "You were never kidding when you said they'd be dead where they stand. What a friend you've been to the eighth fallen child."


Sans closed his eye sockets. "Now that hurts. Really, it does."


"What about you, Sans? What do you have to answer for? Who made you judge, jury, an executioner?"


"We gotta accept the roles we were given. Otherwise we'll just break the game, won't we?"


"You had the gall to say I didn't save everybody. Yet, where were you all those times that Chara-Wraith had the kid kill the keeper of the ruins...or Undyne...or even Papyrus. Wasn't it in YOUR power to stop them?"


Sans opened his eye sockets. They were completely empty; the tiny light dot pupils unable to be found. It was creepy as Hell.


"What I've done or failed to do isn't up for debate."


"We both feel our sins crawling up our backs, don't we? How sickening. A sinner judging a sinner and vice-versa."


I was filling with rage over this.


"You're making a mistake. You know the rules of a Pacifist Run. Chara broke those rules. Are you going to do the same?"


"Whose rules are you breaking, time-traveller?"


"We're just going to keep turning this around on each other until someone concedes, aren't we?"


I narrowed my eyes.


"If this were a genocide timeline, what you're trying to provoke me into would leave you too tired out to face Chara. Speaking of...she had things to say about the time she escaped the King's Castle and when she snuck aboard the Delorean. I don't even have to ask how your battle went."


Sans continued to stare holes in me with his non-existent eyes.


"So where does this leave us? You know how the script goes from seeing the other timelines. You know that--"


"That's where your wrong. No one's going to show. It's going to be the kid and Asgore. One dies the other goes on. They're not going to show up until the kid loads their save data after crossing the barrier. They'll try to get a better ending out of it and jump start Undyne and Alphys' dating."


"That always bugged me about you, Sans. How not just self-aware but super-aware you are. You know exactly what this world is."


"Won't deny it."


"Sans...do you know how many times the "brat" as you call her has been reincarnated throughout the timelines of this AU? How many times the prince has been recycled into it. How many times you and everyone else have just been copied into and randomized to almost unnoticeable degrees every time the world is recreated around you?"


"I could give you an estimation if I felt like it."


"That doesn't count for something?"


"They'll have their day. Somehow they'll have their day."


"I'm not about to let you get in the way of my job, Sans."


"It seems to have escaped you that I'm a sentry. I have a job to do, too."


"We're really doing this?"


Sans opened his eyes a second time. There was the blue glow in the left socket--!


Then I felt i in the core of my being as I saw a large blue heart over my chest..and then I felt myself being tossed and thrown in every direction with each wave of Sans' arm.


I was taken by surprise but I was quick enough to react to the walls, floor, and ceiling of bone-spikes before unceremoniously lifted up and telekinetically dragged through a tunnel of bones all around me. Immediately afterward I heard the unmistakeable sound of Gaster Blasters charging up. I got to dodging like a mad-man, narrowly escaping massive shafts of plasma lasers in FOURS.
I dropped to the floor in an ugly belly-flop splash.


A groan and I looked up.


"So that's how it is, is it?"


"The fact is, buddy...I just don't like you meddling around in our world. So with all due respect...you're just not welcome here."


----RECOVERED DATA FRAGMENT FROM THE RESEARCH LOGS OF SPACE TIME CONTINUUM (STC) AGENCY FIELD AGENT AND FOUNDER, DR. VOLT ALESSANDRO ARCADE-----


Sub-Entry 294: "Volt Arcade vs. Sans the Skeleton":



"The secret life of Comic Sans." I sneered. "What Papyrus doesn't know doesn't hurt him, does it?"


"Low blows don't help your case."


"I'd tell you not to do this, but you won't stop, will you? Why don't you tell me what position you REALLY hold in Asgore's ranks?"


"Clever, aren't you?" Sans stood directly over me.


"Just being here in the time stream, trying to get you your happy ending bugs you that much?"


"You say that but I don't really have any motivation to let you prove it. It's easier to just eliminate you and remove all the complications from this timeline."


"You're really willing to bet removing me will improve your chances to make it out. You gave up on trying to go back. And going to the surface just doesn't appeal to you any more, does it?"


I narrowed my eyes.


"Even if you do...you'll just end up right back here without any memory of it. Or that's the case for everyone else. But you're different. You remember. You remember everything. Does it come to you in nightmares or is it in your conscious memory?"


"Wow. YOu've been here before, haven't you? Funny...I'd think even with the resets, I'd remember you being here. Which leads me to believe...you've seen the other Sanses. You've been to the other universes."


"Just the one that started it all."


"Well. That's enough for me." Sans closed his eye sockets. "Your journey ends here--"


In that moment, while he wasn't paying attention. I winged what dropped out of my sleeve into my hand. It burst in mid-air releasing an oily compound that completely covered him. How's that for an "Ink Sans"?


"Jeeze, guy. I appreciate a practical joke as much as the next comedian, but I don't think that action is going to save you here. You also ruined my hoodie parka. If that was your idea of a first attack, it's not very impressive."


"But it got the job done. That compound is pretty hard to clean out on the fly. But I guess it's what's mixed in that's the real danger. Ask yourself...how many iron filings went into mixing that compound?"


"Huh...?"


"Do you think the mixture is enough to make a skeleton...very ferro-magnetic?"


"!!!"


"My turn."


I suddenly cranked up my magnetism and yanked Sans off his slipper-wearing feet and hurled him into the very wall he tried to smash me into. I could see his eye light up and I felt an opposing force try to cancel my magnesis. He just barely saved himself from a hard impact, as I suddenly reversed direction and slammed him again and again toward the ceiling, floor, and walls. Each time he managed to repulse his momentum before impact. Just the same as I had done with my soul.


After the last attempt, I tried to hold him still but in that moment he teleported to a different spot. The ferro-kinetic coating made it easy to sense where he'd reappear.


"Wow. I didn't peg your for the revenge-seeking type."


"You're not the only one who can't afford not to care. Whether or not I have a home to get back to, I made a vow to keep the prince alive and well. But most of all I intend to make sure he has a home to come back to some day. And that means getting you all to the surface."


"I want to believe it. Really I do. But talk is cheap. And you've kinda pissed me off."


The Gaster Blasters came out again.


I retaliated with the XBTOCLC's. My shots met air as he teleported out of the way. I wasn't a teleporter so I had to use different method.


"What? Did you really think--"


"That you were going to just stand there and take it? No. I'm not that naive. But you're not dealing with a human child armed with the Real Knife."


"You keep trying to convince me you're here for everyone's benefit."


"I never put it like that. I'm here to try to keep things the way they were meant to be. Chara's interference--" I started as I blasted the bone attacks out of the way. As much as I was fighting back I had no intention of turning Sans to dust. Even if he was pushing me to think he deserved it. But he didn't. I just couldn't get through to him. I guess for experts on time and space...we were just never going to understand each other any time soon.


"I won't deny they screwed things up for everybody. But you interfering...poking the demon brat. Have you really done the right thing? Have you really made things better?"


"What do you want from me, Sans? I did the best I could!"


I dodged the walls of bones and dove through the gaps in them. If I was having this much trouble playing keep-away from the bones and the blasters, how did Frisk manage it in the Genocide runs?


"How much did it torture you to fake it, eating Paps' spaghetti?"


"You mean like the human did?"


"Again...I appreciate that you humored Paps and kept him cheered up and all. I'm glad you spared Undyne and kept Alphys out of trouble. You were even there for the King."


Sans didn't mention Toriel. He still hadn't met her (face to face). That was still on track.


"Let's face it. Your mission is a failure. You didn't save the kid's life. You stole it."


His words echoed of Hideo Kuze. Was I really reflexively making a comparison to Ghost in the Shell at this point?


"Tell me, Sans. Did Asgore do his own dirty work...it did he delegate the harvest of human souls to someone else?"


"That's a serious accusation."


"They'd be dead where they stand, comedian?"


The bones were hard to dodge by this point, and I was most certainly in a handicap match; I couldn't score a direct hit on Sans or he'd be dust. I wasn't about to ruin this Pacifist Run. Frisk had come so far and I wasn't about to take that away from them or the Monsters.


By this time it was becoming a war of twisting time and space. It almost seemed like Sans was chopping up time itself; putting me in between his different patterns...almost like a Wario Ware game.


I was also getting severely pissed off. Both of us were running out of time. I estimated that within a span of 10 minutes or so, Sans would be tiring out. It was hard enough to pull my punches. It would become all to easy to land a death blow on him if this went in a bad direction. I wonder how long he could keep "Skele-porting".


"You've done many things that I don't agree to. But you know what the thing is that I can't afford to let slide most?"


"Enlighten me." I seethed.


"You reek of...him."


Gaster?


"So you and W. D. Gaster do have history. What's the connection, Sans? What's the official canon?"


"Uh-uh-uh. You don't get spoilers."


So the feeling was mutual. No one was going to answer the mystery of the previous Royal Scientist.


"What gets my goat is that you found the prince in his company."


"So what?" I was grinding my teeth and fangs.


"Buddy chum pal friend buddy pal chum bud friend fella brother amigo pal buddy friend chummy chum chum pal--"


"Skip whichever Sans you're channeling and get to the point." I roared as I plastered the field around him with lightning bolts. "But I'm warning you. I'm really trying to keep Papyrus from becoming and only brother. You push me and you're not gonna like what happens next."


"You like turning things around on people, don't you?" By this point Sans was blinking us both out of time and space and right back into it at different points. It was like he was loading save states all throughout the battle and putting me in attack barrages that didn't or shouldn't exist.


"For all your hatred for Gaster...you should hate yourself for how much you're acting like him."


"That's not funny." Sans glowered as I electro-morphed and spiraled around a Gaster Blaster laser.


"If it's not true, why are you trying so hard to extinguish the last hope to give Monsters a happy ending? Do you think Monsters DESERVE to be stuck in this prison? You may not care about going to the surface, but for you to steal that dream away from everyone else? You're no better that W. D. Gaster!"


"This isn't about Gaster. This is about you, the Brat, and the Flower."


"You certainly caused Flowey his fair share of resets. How much do you know about--"


"If I had known the weed was the prince all along...if I had known he'd been with Gaster all that time? Well...I guess I'd have to make sure they both got dunked on--"


At that my temper soared into the stratosphere and I snapped.


"YOU LAY A BONE ON HIM AND I'LL--!!!"


There was the sound of a deafening thunderclap as I nearly ignited the air itself and electromorphed like I had never done before.


"!!!!!!"


Sans was completely caught off guard.


FIrst I saw white...then I saw red.


I landed and whirled. Sans dropped to the ground like a sack of potatoes. This had never happened before. What had I done?


----RECOVERED DATA FRAGMENT FROM THE RESEARCH LOGS OF SPACE TIME CONTINUUM (STC) AGENCY FIELD AGENT AND FOUNDER, DR. VOLT ALESSANDRO ARCADE-----


Sub-Entry 295: "The Final Meeting with Asgore":



"Sans...stop this. I don't want to fight but I can't make it any clearer than I have if you still press this."


Sans was still stunned by the hair-line slice across the jowel of his skull. Red peeked out from it.


My scanner glass was reading 0.9 HP. I had done a tenth of a point of damage to him.


Sans sighed.


"You're really serious about this, aren't you?"


"If you don't move you're going to end up failing Asgore as a sentry and...well, whatever real purpose you serve here. Whatever you've hidden from Papyrus."


"It wouldn't be the first time Fluffybuns has been dusted. If this has been going on as many times as I think it has...the resets and the erases and the in-betweens..."


"Sans, don't. I have a chance, a real chance to find a way to stop the resets and make all this last. I want a place for the kid to return to. Once both he and this world have had time to mature...for humans and monsters to grow used to each other. For the ways of the old to be brushed away for new thinking."


I admitted. It wasn't as cut and dry as I made it sound. There could still be consequences. There would likely be bumps in the road. Things like...addressing all the children Asgore had murdered to get their souls. If equality was possible between two races that had gone to war in the past. What issues would they have integrating into society?


"Determined, aren't you? You and the kid have that in common."


"Sans if we keep fighting, I can keep going on. I might tire out too, but you've seen this." I pointed to where the bone had pierced through me, now healed up.


"I can go on forever but sooner or later, no matter how much I keep the kid gloves on...that one HP of yours is just going to drop to zero. I can't do that to Papyrus. I can't take you away from him."


"Huh. Sounds like I should have trusted you in the first place. But...it's too late for that, I guess."


"Sans. Get some healing. Put some trust in the kid. And maybe me."


"THe kid earned the benefit of the doubt."


"And yet you're still afraid they'll reset."


"I hate promises. So I'm not going to make you promise to stop the kid from doing the deed."


"Look. They're so close to the ending. They've probably been in battle with Asgore for a while now. I have to be there to make sure nothing unexpected goes wrong. I have to make sure they reload and get to the happy ending that you all deserve."


"No promises. I have one too many as it is."


"I'll do what I can." By now my confidence was shakey. Even though I had no danger of dying, Sans, really took me to school. It was the sloppiest battle I'd ever fought.


I turned and charged through the door into Asgore's throne room. Nobody here. They'd already gone ahead to the barrier.
I rushed through the doorway and down the hall.


One last doorway...and there I was. In that endless hallway of strange, pulsing white light.


I heard Asgore's trident clatter to the ground as he took a knee. He was wounded but not fatally.


There was Frisk. In that brief instant, they tossed asside the stick.


I saw the H.U.D. come up...the MERCY button was...fractured. The pieces of when it had been shattered by Asgore were barely sticking together. This was Frisk's mercy.


"I remember the day after my son died. The entire underground was devoid of hope. The future had once again been taken from us by the humans. In a fit of anger, I declared war. I said that I would destroy any human that came here. would use their souls to become godlike... ...and free us from this terrible prison. Then, I would destroy humanity... And let monsters rule the surface, in peace.

Soon, the people's hopes returned. My wife, however, became disgusted with my actions. She left this place, never to be seen again. Truthfully... I do not want power. I do not want to hurt anyone. I just wanted everyone to have hope...
I cannot take this any longer. I just want to see my wife. I just want to see my child. Please... Young one... This war has gone on long enough. You have the power... Take my soul, and leave this cursed place."


Frisk pressed down on the SPARE button.


"After everything I have done to hurt you... You would rather stay down here and suffer... Than live happily on the surface? Human... I promise you... For as long as you remain here... My wife and I will take care of you as best we can. We can sit in the living room, telling stories... Eating butterscotch pie... We could be like... Like a family..."


I breathed a sigh of relief...but then he said started speaking again and I felt the situation start to fall apart.


"No. That's just a fantasy, isn't it? Young one, when I look at you... I'm reminded of the human that fell here long ago... You have the same feeling of hope in your eyes. There is an ancient prophecy among our people... One day, a savior will come from the heavens. ...I believe the one that was prophesied was you. Somewhere in the world outside... There must be a way to free us from our prison. It pains me to give you this responsibility, but... Please. Take my soul... and seek the truth. Ha... ha... I'm sorry... I couldn't give you a simple, happy ending... But I believe your freedom... ...is what my son... ...what ASRIEL would have wanted."


No. This wasn't right. This shouldn't be happening. Something was wrong. Something's changed. Was this because of Chara? Was this MY fault? I have to--


Asgore looked up and saw me standing in the entrance. Frisk noticed me as well.


"Doctor...I--"


Suddenly I felt a presence.


Then I saw the ring of Friendliness Pellets.


"No!"


This was necessary for the Neutral Ending to run its course and lead into the True Pacifist Ending. But something wasn't right.


The pellets encircled Asgore's throat...then collapsed inward. My eyes widened as the fatal blow was struck.


I heard the dreaded sound. I watched the unknown breeze blow through. Asgore's form dissoved away into dust which fell to the floor.


A single upside-down, white heart lingered behind in front of Frisk moments before a final Friendliness Pellet appeared...and pierced it.


Meanwhile...far, far away in Home, in the Ruins...


"...Tch!" Toriel covered her heart.


Tears started rolling down her cheeks.


"Asgore..."


Back at the Barrier...


----RECOVERED DATA FRAGMENT FROM THE RESEARCH LOGS OF SPACE TIME CONTINUUM (STC) AGENCY FIELD AGENT AND FOUNDER, DR. VOLT ALESSANDRO ARCADE-----


Sub-Entry 296: "The King Is Dead. Long Live the Prince of this World's Future":



I stood aghast as Asgore was now a pile of dust. I knew it was coming but it just didn't set it that it had to be this way. I respected him. I cared about him. I felt like I should have intervined...but I didn't. It was opposite of what I had done with Asriel. I knew I shouldn't have intervined...but I did. This time I knew not to intervine.......and I didn't.


"Flow--" I started.


But then something happened that wasn't supposed to. The mass of a barbed, spikey vine streaked toward me...and missed?


No. It didn't miss. It struck--


"FRISK!" I cried out as the child was smashed against the wall several times before being thrown out the door.
This wasn't supposed to happen. This wasn't supposed to happen!


"No!"


I gaped in horror.


"I don't understand...! Why--"


"You IDIOT!"


"Flowey...!" I whirled.


I was an idiot. All this time. I convinced myself that Chara was the the threat...no...my mistake was convincing myself Chara was the ONLY threat. I had left my guard down to the weed all this time.


Yet...that wasn't what made my mistake bad. I forgot...this vessel. This wretched, souless vessel. It carried the memories of Asriel and was injected with large doses of Determination. Enough that could have influence over time and space.


"That's right. It's me. Flowey the Flower."


"But...! The--"


I should understand. I should realize what he had been pounding into me all along. He had no soul. He had no regret. He felt himself above the consequences. Yet...I was stunned...completely catatonic down to my core as the realization had set in that he murdered his own father.


"You really don't get it. I've been doing this dance for so long. I take the souls, I unload Hell on Earth, I watch the human die and die and die again. I save over their death. And somehow...I end up losing. I get spared. I run away. I contact the human outside of their perfect little life outside the barrier, and get them to reload and come back."


"Flowey..."


"I convince them to cheer up Alphys--something you tried to do but obviously it didn't work out, did it?"


He was speaking of something that shouldn't have been put into motion yet.


"..."


I screwed up.


"The funny thing is that it all could have worked out sooner if I wanted it to. If I had only told Papyrus to bring everyone together, then the human wouldn't even NEED to reload. We could just get right down to the stealing of the Human Souls and every Monster Soul in the kingdom. The one chance to ascend to a god."


"But why would you throw away that chance?"


"Because. Something else has been bugging me."


"...what...would that be?"


"You. Every time I followed them...you were there watching. Talking about how you care. Only one person ever truly cared about me. But you already knew that, didn't you?"


"..."


"What's you're deal? What's your obsession with me? You don't know me."


"But..."


"He was right about it all. I'm not even the original, am I? No. I was just a substitute for this endless game that keeps being restarted over and over. But you...you know what happened to the last one, don't you? That's what the Wraith went after you for?"


Things were going from bad to worse. Things were falling apart faster and faster.


This Flowey. He KNEW about the endless resets and reincarnations. The times that one of the major souls couldn't be salvaged and recycled...the Goddesses simply replaced them. But the previous Chara...the one in the Soul Society refused to let their role end. They pushed aside the new Chara soul in the pipeline to get to an Asriel...any Asriel. He knew I rescued his predecessor. He knew Chara...the one he only thought was his own...followed me to my home world........and never came back.


This Flowey/Asriel was completely aware of what was apparently stripped from my Asriel's memory. My Asriel honestly thought that what happened to him happened for the first and only time. That was the nature of the Unstable Timeline at work. That was Lady Destiny and Madam Fate's rewrite of the rules.


But that wasn't what was on my mind. I was beating myself up for what I had overlooked.


I focused entirely on Chara-Wraith...that I was completely distracted from the most obvious of threats. Mabye...it was because I didn't want to remember him. Maybe...I was too convinced to focus on Asriel as a completely different person than Flowey that I denied they were one and the same...at least they should have been until a single fluke prevented that from happening. A complete fluke in a doomed Genocide Timeline. A fluke that if I hadn't intervined...would be as if it had never happened at all. Everyone including Asriel would be gone and the timeline would restart in another configuration with unstable variations.


"But I know what you did. He told me what you did. You're the reason. You're the reason Chara is gone, isn't it?!"


Flowey was supposed to mistake Frisk for Chara. It was all for nothing. I had no chance. What did I even accomplish?


"Please...I--"


"I'll never forgive you. But I won't kill you. No. The brat out there can wait their turn. I think I found someone better to play with..."


That was when the six souls rose from their shattered containers and joined with Flowey.


The laughter. The unholy laughter.


Everything went black--


CRYPTOSMASHER ERROR.
LOGGING MALFUNCTION...
TEMPORAL ANOMALY.....


I found myself in the Ruins when might sight and hearing came back. But it was so dark an empty-- SOmething was wonky about it. Maybe it was the [LOAD] "screen" before me. But...where was Frisk? They should be at this "screen", not me.


A massive impact reverberated through the area. Then again...and again. And I saw...reality seem to crack...and shatter as the message [LOAD FAILED] quickly tore itself apart as I was confronted by a giant Flowey hovering before me.


----RECOVERED DATA FRAGMENT FROM THE RESEARCH LOGS OF SPACE TIME CONTINUUM (STC) AGENCY FIELD AGENT AND FOUNDER, DR. VOLT ALESSANDRO ARCADE-----


Sub-Entry 297: "Omega Flowey":



"Well. We've certainly dragged this out long enough. So why don't we just get to it. I'm sure you know this by heart now...hee hee... *ahem*


Howdy! It's me, FLOWEY. FLOWEY the FLOWER! I owe you a HUGE thanks. The kid really did a number on that old fool. But you distracted them both with your arrival that they never saw it coming. Without you, I NEVER could have gotten past him. But now, with YOUR help... He's DEAD. And I'VE got the human SOULS!"


"But...he was your--" I started. Flowey cut in before I could practically drive it home that I knew who he really was.


That image was covered with micro-glitches. The area was unstable.


"Boy! I've been empty for so long... It feels great to have a SOUL inside me again. Mmmm, I can feel them wriggling... Awww, you're feeling left out, aren't you? Well, that's just perfect. After all, I only have six souls. I still need one more... Before I become GOD. And then, with my newfound powers... Monsters. Humans. Everyone. I'll show them all the REAL meaning of this world."


The whole thing about passing up the last human soul. It was a lie. He didn't want Frisk's soul...he wanted mine, now.


"Golly, if only you had a SAVE FILE you could run away to... But you were just too STUPID to make one! But don't worry. Your old friend FLOWEY... Has worked out a replacement for you! I'll SAVE over your own death. So you can watch me tear you to bloody pieces... Over, and over, and over..."


I tried to speak but--


"...what? Do you really think you can stop ME? Hee hee hee... You really ARE an idiot."


This feeling. What was this feeling?


I was...afraid. I was afraid to confront him. I knew who he was. Who he really was.


My best friend had betrayed and abandoned me. I was hurt. I was alone. I was scared. I was completely wired. As much angst as I felt...I had vented it with my fight with Sans. But more than that......I came to the realization....


I couldn't raise a hand to him. I couldn't face my best nightmare. Whether Asriel or Omega Flowey......I couldn't bring myself to fight back.


From the depths of the darkness he slowly lowered down from above. Huuuuge, spike-covered, cactus-y arms with red, clawed finger-spears. Two, enormous masses of what appeared to be continuously growing vines--each as big around and more spike-covered than his "arms"--poured out of a leafy mass underneath the main...er...head?


A fleshy...face which resembled Gyfftrot's...or the DT Extraction machine sit directly above the cushion of leaves; a bulbous bloodshot eye in each socket. The nostrils were pushed up well above the eyeline. But it was the jaws that were most disturbing. They weren't like a normal beast's. No. They were turned 90 degrees so that each set of jaws was like a set of pruning shears...but far more toothy and saliva-dripping.


The pattern of...metal, flexible hoses encircled the main head in a six-petal...vaguely flower shape. A second pair of eyes filled the outer-most hoses. The lowest set of hoses fed into the side of each jaw. The last pair of hoses, forming the top petals, fed into the main head--a classic-looking CRT-type television set. And from the whole mass, a spaghetti maze of veins, tendrils, hoses, pipes, and bio-matter poured out of it and into the ceiling somewhere above.


The screen turned white and on it I saw Flowey's face...at least it started as Flowey's face until the mouth widened to impossibly large and toothy. Then the eyes...split open and a bulbous, red orb popped out of each one. The whole creature looked like a science project gone wrong and then gone completely to the tenth level of Hell.


With a loud, and disturbing laugh, he deafened me.


I had a price to pay. It was time to pay what I owe. There was only one course of action...


----RECOVERED DATA FRAGMENT FROM THE RESEARCH LOGS OF SPACE TIME CONTINUUM (STC) AGENCY FIELD AGENT AND FOUNDER, DR. VOLT ALESSANDRO ARCADE-----


Sub-Entry 298: "Volt Surrendered to Fate. But Fate Would Not Allow a Game Over":



I spread my arms out and closed my eyes.


"What's this? You really think sparing me is going to work. Aww...I guess I should take pity on you..."


And then I found myself riddled with X-shaped bullets from the lower eyes followed by maniacal laughter.


"...You really are a special kind of idiot!"


And then triple waves of X-shots from the upper eyes.


I couldn't count how many times they struck me. There was searing pain. I spasmed from the impacts.


"Urgh..." I staggered, the breath knocked out of me.


"Flow...ey....!"


As my vision cleared I saw the red targeting lines. Then I felt the scores and scores of vines pierce. Repeatedly.
I felt wet and looked down to see the holes and the blood. I gasped for breath as I staggered back.
I saw it to the left...and I saw it to the right. I felt only a brief moment of something warm incoming...


Then I felt myself ignite.


My scream echoed through the room. Eventually the flamethrowers shut off and the flames died down. Oh gods...oh gods, no...


I had been stumbling backward. I blinked and I saw the energy buildup in the second head. Then the resulting beam flooded the room and blinded my vision...everything kinda blinked out of existence for a moment.


I was too out of it to look how badly my body was torn up from just this much.


It didn't matter though. As soon as my eyes opened...the Friendliness Pellets encircled me.


"You...and the old goat...with the same murder weapon."


And then I felt it pierce into my throat--


CRYPTOSMASHER OFFLINE
LOGGING INTERRUPTED

LIFE SIGNS NOT DETECTED...
LIFE SIGNS DETECTED

LOGGING RESUMING


"Ugh..."


"Well, well...it seems you don't NEED a save file. This is verrrrry interesting. I guess our game won't have to end so soon! If you can do that...then this can go on forever and ever and ever! Hee hee hee hee..."


"Flowey...no...don't...do this..."


My vision was blurry. As soon as I blinked everything seemed to go to black and I was seeing knives fly all around.


No. Toy knives.


I could hear a girl's voice in the distance. I couldn't make out what they were saying but I could see a cyan light around.


This was the soul that represented patience!


The souls! They were starting to resonate...they were starting to rebel. But...


I didn't have Frisk's...! I didn't have what our Asriel had gotten from the previous Frisk.


I thought the voice said "I...can't find you......please......I'll keep searching......for as long as it takes..."


That was the Patience soul speaking to me!


The ACT button wasn't showing. She couldn't find my soul in all this darkness. I couldn't call out for help. Or...maybe I didn't...


Back to reality.


More of Flowey's barrage.


I faded out of consciousness again...this time...


"Gloves...?"


Tough gloves.


An orange glow. And a voice.


"Hey! Mister! What are you scared? C'mon, stop hiding and fight this guy! Show yourself so I can help you out!"


Bravery, now.


They couldn't see me or hear me. Was I even calling for help? No. I wasn't.


By now Flowey switched strategies.


By this time Flowey had started to ramp it up and added to his arsenal.


His "hands" started to mutate, growing Venus Flytraps. And then came the flies. Flies that swarmed me; their vomit threatening to digest me. Ewww. And OUCH! FREAKING OUCH! Acid really, really hurt!


I looked up.


"Oh come onnnnn..."


That was when I saw the bombs drop. LITERALLY. Bombs sporting Flowey's face.
Explosions. Pain beyond pain.


I then saw the plant stems with the finger-guns suddenly sprout up. On the ends of each were Flowey's image. And they all converged upon me like javelins.


As if that weren't enough...the Dentata rushed at me; cactus-like snakes with mouths. If they missed, they ricochetted off the wals and tried again.


When I conked out this time there were stars around. I didn't have time to stargaze because that was when the giant ballet shoes came down in a ballet "jette" to each side of me, one after the other.


"If you keep up this way, you won't last. You're not being very true to yourself! This isn't you, Mister! Please! Stop running from the truth!"


Integrity.


More attacks came to snap me out of that darkness. I was regenerating as fast as they were coming in but...for how long?


Which sent me spinning into the blackness yet again.


A purple haze among two giant books to the right and left of me. I was being bombarded by a plethera of negative words.


"Mister! You're backed into a corner! Why are you giving up? It doesn't make sense! This isn't the logical path! You gotta survive! You gotta think of a way out of this!"


Perserverence.


By this next round Flowey decided to turn up the "meta" factor and prove to me that this WAS a game. And that's when I felt time and space jump around me...and saw the brief image of the dreaded "File 2 Loaded". This happened every time one of his vines missed me.


When it reloaded I was reloaded directly in the path for a bulleye that never happened.


"Wha...what?!?"


He had multiple save files. If ever there was a greater cheater on this world...


Oh, Asriel...how did you become...this?


The blackness overtook me.


Green now. I was tumbling among frying pans. Frying pans that were spitting out fire. Heh...out of the frying pan and into the...yeah...you know...


I think by that point I was getting a little loopy.


"I don't want to see you hurting like this. Please...let me help you! Where are you?! Come out so I can heal you! I can feel your pain...it hurts! Let me stop the hurting!"


Kindness.


I was losing track of how much I was being bombarded. The grotesque form of this Photoshopped Nightmare was fading in and out. I was barely sure of where I was.


One more blink out of existence and...


"Oh...its this one..." I looked down the barrel of the gun moments before the boom.


"Tarnation! What in Sam Hill are you doin', par'ner? Git' up and show that ornry critter who's boss! You ain't gonna let that varmant get away with that, are ya?"


That could only be Justice.


But it did me no good. Six virues...and I was letting them slip by.


The real problem was...after all that happened...I had lost the one virtue I needed now more than anything.


However...I had made my choice. I was already taking action...by not taking action. By not acting at all.
This was my fate. This was my punishment. Is this what you wanted, Asriel? Does this make it right? Tell me when I've paid for betraying you...whatever it was I did......can't...think.....straight....


It was fading to black...


CRYPTOSMASHER OFFLINE
LIFE SIGNS NOT DETECTED
LOGGING INTERRUPTED...

*static*

----RECOVERED DATA FRAGMENT FROM THE RESEARCH LOGS OF SPACE TIME CONTINUUM (STC) AGENCY FIELD AGENT AND FOUNDER, DR. VOLT ALESSANDRO ARCADE-----



Sub-Entry 299: "Why, Dr. Arcade?! Why Won't You Fight Back?!":


How many times now....has it been... Hundreds of death-and-revives? Thousands? I didn't know. I didn't care. All I could do was take my punishment. Over and over. I wasn't trying to commit suicide. I was...just...letting him win.


But with each death...Omega Flowey's excitement...his smugness...his enjoyment of the situation began to fade.


The badly digitized images of...what vaguely looked like a monochrome Game Boy Camera image of a human either laughing maniacally or having a siezure. stopped showing up and Flowey's bloodshot eye image stopped popping up as much...leaving his golden flower image to emote.


He started looking bored...then annoyed...then frustrated...then downright pissed.


"What are you doing?"


"..."


"Fight back!"


"..."


"Do something!"


"..."


"Are you really so stubborn that you won't fight me out of spite?! You're mocking me! You're--"


"No. That's not it."


"Why?! Why, Arcade?! Why are you DOING this?!?"


Omega Flowey tightened his vines around me and squeezed.


"WHY?! WHY WON'T YOU FIGHT BACK?!?"


"..."


"What has anyone ever accomplished by not fighting back?! What do you think you're going to prove--" Flowey stopped short.


"That's really a question...you once knew the answer to..." I looked up.


The memory was coming back.


I was using...that against him...not intentionally, mind you. It was just...how it was.


I had reminded him that a monster prince who had absorbed a human soul...who just needed six more to give monsters their freedom...wouldn't fight back when the humans murdered him out of fear.


But what I had really hit home with was that I had proved a point.


"You're figuring it out, aren't you? All that power... It's happened. You've become strong. Too strong. Being this strong is.......pretty boring, isn't it?"


Was I really quoting Saitama at a time like this?


"What?!"


"Where's the challenge? That's what you're really thinking."


"No, no, NO, NO, NOOO!"


"All those times...you begged "Chara" to let you win. Well. You're winning. What else is left?"


"I won't win until you're dead! Why won't you DIE?!?"


"It's because...that's the one thing I can't do...as much as I want to at this point...I'm so sorry.......Asriel."


Flowey just stopped for a moment.


The flower image on screen suddenly drooped, hanging its head.


"No. I'm not him. I'm NOT. What you're talking to is the husk of someone that's already died. I'm Flowey! I'M FLOWEY! I'M JUST A BALL OF MEMORIES WITH NO SOUL!"


"You need help. You need--"


"I don't WANT help!" Flowey raged.


"You already have him. Why are you reaching out to me?! What, are you trying to save every "him" in existence? Am I just one more to add to a collection? You're a freak!"


"..."


That wasn't it. It wasn't. You've got to believe me, Flowey. That's...not true... That's...not.......


"I'm sorry, Asriel. I did everything wrong in the end...all of my good intentions...they backfired drastically. That's why...that's why I'm letting you take your revenge on me. In the end...I'm a coward. I've lost my way. Just like you have."


"I'm nothing like you."


"Yeah...the fact is...you were better than me. When you were still him...you were always better than me."


"Gaaah....stop being so sickening."


"I get it. I'll never be Chara."


"How dare you speak her name...how dare you! You don't know her! She was the only one who knew me! And you...you...you made her go away!"


"I did. And...I'm sorry."


"Stop saying that! I don't forgive you! I hate you! You're ruining everything!"


"It wouldn't be the first time..."


I stood there, limply. My clothing was having trouble completely reintegrating. Everything Omega Flowey put me through started to erode the regeneration image stored in the Bracer. While the Contracts of the Sisters--the Genie's Lamp and Pandora's Box--wouldn't let me die...it had its limits to respawning anything that wasn't part of me; clothing and equipment. Which, the bracer, extended to my being. The deaths were starting to erode its residual memory of my attire's last intact image of its entire molecular structure. Heh...so this is what it's like to be Son Goku after a battle that finally cashes in his training gi...? What an inappropriate thing to cross my mind at that moment.


"Then I guess we'll just repeat this over and over until you break! Until you give up!"


"Flowey...don't do it. You've already abused the timeline enough...if you keep pushing it, you're going to--"


"Shut up! I'll show you."


I shakily stood my ground.


"I'll just use ever save file in my possession to--"


And that was when Flowey got the ERROR message.


"What? How'd you...? Well, I'll just...Wh... Where are my powers!? The souls...? What are they doing?"


I looked up and saw the souls tear free from Omega Flowey's body.


"N-no! No, stop! Don't...! I can get through to him! I can--"


With that...the souls rebelled.


"NO!! NO!!!!! YOU CAN'T DO THAT!!! YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO OBEY ME!! STOP!!! STOP IT!!!!! STOOOOPPPP!!!!!


The destruction. The carnage. This time it wasn't my own.


I begged the souls to stop. I tried to convince them that I was in no danger. I pleaded to listen to me. Despite everything...I wanted to protect Flowey...Asriel...but...


This was the end.


----RECOVERED DATA FRAGMENT FROM THE RESEARCH LOGS OF SPACE TIME CONTINUUM (STC) AGENCY FIELD AGENT AND FOUNDER, DR. VOLT ALESSANDRO ARCADE-----


Sub-Entry: 300: "Flowey Defeated/Frisk's Choice"



Quiet. So quiet. And ominous.


There was the weed. It hung like it had wilted. Flowey was in bad shape. Bleeding...something. Liquid determination? Without the six souls, everything...even the barrier became so colorless.


"..."


Omega Flowey was nowhere to be found.


But regular Flowey...


There he was. Looking wilted...and torn up...


I approached.


I tried to comfort.


"... What are you doing? Do you really think I've learned anything from this? No."


I refused to lay a hand on him let alone hurt him.


"Sparing me won't change anything. Killing me is the only way to end this."


I shook my head.


"If you let me live... I'll come back. I'll kill you."


"You know that isn't true. You know I can't die."


"Just end me, Arcade!"


There was a thick...black...something coming from his mouth. It wasn't blood. It looked like...could it be...? Was this......spent Determination? Was it Determination that had gone inert?


"..."


I refused.


"...?"


I wouldn't do it.


"... why?"


A tear rolled down my furry face.


"... why are you being... so nice to me?"


"Because despite it all...it's still you. You're still Asriel. Even if you don't know it...I will always want to be your best friend." I said, voice breaking.


"I can't understand. I can't understand! I just can't understand..."


Flowey ran away.


"Flowey! Asriel! Please! Come back! Don't.......don't....leave me....again..."


I hung my head.


I heard a noise behind me.


"Hmm?"


I turned. "Oh! Frisk! You're here! Thank goodness you're alright. The souls are going to open the way forth. You can do it! You can go home--"


That's when I noticed.


"Frisk?"


To my horror...I suddenly realized what they were doing.


"Frisk, NO!" I strugged to stand back up from where I had knelt down to tend to Flowey.


"No! No! No, Frisk! You can't do THAT!"


I could see it plain as day. That was the H.U.D. And that was the [RESET]!


"Frisk, please! You can't take those memories away! We came so far! If it's about Asgore, we can bring him back! You know this! You know all you have to do is reload!"


I stumbled and tried to run toward them.


"FRISK! FRIIIIIISK!"


They looked up at me with sad eyes.


"I don't want to let go! I don't want to lose their friendships! Why would you?! Why would you take their hopes and dreams?! You haven't even finished this run yet and you're just going to throw it away?!"


Frisk started crying.


And then...they spoke.


"I'm...sorry. He said it was the only way..."


He?! HE WHO?!?


"Nooooooooooo! Don't do it!"


I grabbed onto them...but a moment too late. I reached for the H.U.D. hoping I could stop it somehow.


Their hand touched the RESET...and the shock wave erupted outward...but something felt off as I felt the energy release tug at me.


My Bracer's screen started glitching out. Then giving error messages. Then it started flashing red as a static discharge leaped from the device and across the H.U.D.


Microglitches, binary, and wire frame blinked in and out of it moments before it warped and twisted for a moment.
In a moment the spherical blastwave swallowed us both up.


As we were lifted off the dissolving room...the dissolving reality...I felt the child being pulled out of my grasp and sucked away from me.


As I tumbled out of control into the abyss of white light I could see everyone in the underground...fading away.


It started with Sans.


He looked at me with defeated...eye dots, hands shoved into his pockets.


I looked at him with tear-filled eyes. "Sans...I..."


"Heh...I guess...the joke's on both of us..." He was joking but I could hear the depression in his voice. "Guess we all get dunked on because I couldn't trust you. Well. Guess it was the kid I shouldn't have trusted."


Then he was gone.


"D-Doctor..." Alphys looked at me as she was slowly pulled out of reality. "Are we...going back?"


I nodded, sadly.


"W-w-we j-just weren't w-worthy of the surface after all.."


I couldn't protest. She was already gone.


Undyne looked at me, her ear frills drooping.


I couldn't look her in the eye. I'd never be able to explain this.


"Hey...anime's still real...right?"


I nodded before she gave that silly grin...and disappeared.


"I...I don't understand..."


No. Not Papyrus, too.


"Paps...I..."


"I still believe..." was all he got out.


No...this was cruel. This was horrible.


It was then I turned to face Goat Mom.


"Volt."


"Toriel."


We faced each other as she started fading away.


"You'll be good...won't you?"


"I'll be on my best behavior. I'll be my very best."


She waved...with a pleasant smile that seemed to say "until we meet again" while making a heart-sign with her hands. One last secret handshake to remember her by...


As the Underground twisted and contorted into a vortex of pure time and pure space I saw Gaster for a moment, hands behind his back. He shook his head, then turned and vanished.


Frisk appeared in the center of the storm, tangles of electricity pouring out form the epicenter. Was this what a reset looked like form the inside.


"Frisk! Stop this! Please stop this! You have to stop!"


But I knew they couldn't. I knew it was already too late.


"Why, Frisk? Why?"


Frisk didn't answer. They were ashamed. They were regretting their decision immediately. They knew they had been lied to by now. But who? Who lied to you, Frisk? Who put you up to this? Was it Flowey? No...


"Friiiiiiiiiiiisk!" I felt myself being yanked out of the timeline as its unstable nature collasped and disppeared into the cosmos.


"You can't do this! You can't do this! You can't..."


TO BE CONTINUED....



A message from Asriel:

Milestone 300th Sub-Entry! I know things look bad. I know how the others and I must seem to you. But hang in there. Things have to get worse before they get better. The story is not finished. All will be revealed...soon.

Thank you all for staying with us this long. The end of the beginning is coming...
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  #62  
Old 05-24-2017, 08:10 PM
Volt Alessandro Arcade's Avatar
Volt Alessandro Arcade Volt Alessandro Arcade is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2015
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----RECOVERED DATA FRAGMENT FROM THE RESEARCH LOGS OF SPACE TIME CONTINUUM (STC) AGENCY FIELD AGENT AND FOUNDER, DR. VOLT ALESSANDRO ARCADE-----


Sub-Entry 301: "The World Reset/The Council's Punishment"



"...you can't...do this..........why, Frisk? Why...?"


I was too catatonic to take in my surroundings.


I was on the transport platform within STC-Agency Headquarters.


That was when the security doors opened and the room flooded with soldiers in tactical gear, pointing their guns at me.


"Dr. Volt Alessandro Arcade, you are under arrest by order of the Council."


It was happening again. No...this was worse than the Mobius End Game.


I was lead directly to the Council Chambers.


I passed by a number of other agents.


Some considered me friends. I was sure I saw Dr. Persiphone. She looked as though her heart was breaking. I could tell she wanted to do something but...there was nothing she could do.


Dr. Nicodimus. An elder even by my standards. The look in his eyes...he knew I had done nothing wrong. He could sense my judgement was sound and he would support me to the end.


Dr. Daedalus. It was good to have a fan, especially within your own agency.


Others...looked at me like I was an obstacle to their research.


Dr. Phoenix. Pompous jerk. Skeptic. Opportunist. And in all probability as ambitious as Starscream.


Dr. Orion. A total suckup. He's been wanting the position I SHOULD have had, had the council not reduced me down to this.


Even now I called them all doctors. Scientists. Even the ones I didn't respect (or had no reason to) and the ones that didn't respect me deserved at least that much. Rather than be reduced to time-hopping librarians and janitors.


"......."


There they were. The darkeness and the overall size and scope of the room just over-inflated their already overglorified positions.


I once considered them friends. Friends I entrusted with the secrets of my research. But they were just the first to turn their backs on me.


The charges were read off. I just tuned them all out. I wasn't even technically supposed to be logging this. I guess part of me was hardwired to always have a record of my greatest failures. This was far bigger than the "Graveyard" where I housed my Miranda failures--such as the aforementioned propane tank I spoke to Toriel about.


My data and logging system were being decrypted and decoded, slowly but surely. Photos. Audio recordings. Complete video in real time. Everything. It was all being paraded around the every-increasing number of holo-windows.


"..."


"...furthermore the life form in question, known as Asriel Dreemurr, is to be erased from existence."


No. No, you can't!


I raised my head to speak in Asriel's defense. I was beaten down but the Council was not going to erase so much of a molecule of him. Over my dead body--


ZAAARK!!!


The bailiff smashed me in the back of the neck with the stun rod. I didn't even get a word out.


"Sentencing is to commence immediately."


Well. I knew what that sentence was. It happened before. When you're an Agent of S.T.C., you don't get fired. You don't get burned like a spy. You get erased...from existence. From EVER existing. Everything you've ever done is replaced with a placeholder soul. A nameless, faceless entity that adapts to whatever role you filled in your life; an entity which becomes forgettable. Not just in metaphor but in the literal sense. No matter how hard anyone tries, they'll never remember this...person's name. Just that he...exists.


Then they replace you with someone who'll do the job without question, without opinion, without objection. In short...without humanity.


"As of this moment your life, existence and attachments to space, time, and dimension comes to an end--"


*KA-BOOOOOM*


The explosion and teleport and the sudden hijacking of all the computer systems in the room took everyone by surprise.


And that's when the stuff REALLY hit the fan.


CRYPTOSMASHER ERROR...
LOGGING NOT AVAILABLE
ACTIVATING EXTERNAL PERIPHERAL MEMORY STORAGE DEVICE...


----RECOVERED DATA FRAGMENT FROM THE RESEARCH LOGS OF SPACE TIME CONTINUUM (STC) AGENCY FIELD AGENT AND FOUNDER, DR. VOLT ALESSANDRO ARCADE-----


Sub-Entry 302: "Saved By Kommand?"



"What's up, b--(FLOWEY CACKLE)--es? Am I interrupting!"


Gasps all around the Council.


"Kommand is in the house."


Sure enough, Kommand had shown up, in a cybersuit and cloak that resembled something out of Overwatch. Which was the one that looked like a cybernetic grim reaper again?


"GUARDS!!!"


"I don't believe they'll be joining us. In fact I don't think they'll be leaving their rooms. Furthermore, you'll find all of your security quite FUBAR."


"You...you...!"


"Annnnnd that's not even all. I've completely hijacked A.E.O.N. Don't believe me? Check those outdated holo-viewers at each of your round-table stations."


"...this is...!"


"IMPOSSIBLE!!!"


"You damn TERRORIST!"


"Somebody sieze her!"


"Ah-ah-ah!" Kommand drew her plasma pistol and held it directly under my jaw in a head shot. At that angle it would pierce my brain stem. Still wouldn't kill me.


"You fool! Is this your attempt at a hostage situation?"


"Don't overthink this, Councilor. Who exactly is qualified to restore A.E.O.N. back to operational capcity and give you control over the power you've coveted for centuries?"


"......"


"That's right. Who could say what kind of effect cerebral trauma might have on his memories. Especially when subjecting all of his neurotransmitters to the shock of an unidentified type of energy?"


Kommand wasn't lying. That energy pack contained super-compressed chronotons in a xenon isotope matrix. Previous experiments in the R & D lab had caused a lot of...large scale issues with the technicians' memories.


"You wouldn't."


"I would. And I will. So I guess in the name of my unspecified demands which I may or may not reveal in the near future, your founding father and most important field agent is coming with me."


"You won't get away with this--"


And just like that, we were teleported outside of time and space to her secret base. And hovering in our place was a neon hololyth that spelled out in big bold letters:


"I already have."


I was barely conscious; lucid at best. Any drop of Determination I had had dried up.


So this was it. I was removed from the STC-Agency. I was a fugitive; kidnapped by a wanted temporarl terrorist. Knowing them, they'd try to paint me as a conspirer with Stockholm's Syndrome. My life's work. Destroyed.


"Hey. You awake in there?"


"..."


"Wow...I guess the situation kinda did a number on you. Sorry about that."


That's all you can say? Sorry about that?!


"Well...it's still too soon... "


What were you saying...?


"So I guess I have one more thing to apologize for..."


One more?


"What...?"


"This." And then everything just felt like it was imploding I don't know if I was screaming or not but all my...conscious...thoughts........were..........


CRYPTOSMASHER OFFLINE
EXTERNAL LOGGING SYSTEM OFFLINE
LOGGING INTERRUPTED

----RECOVERED DATA FRAGMENT FROM THE RESEARCH LOGS OF SPACE TIME CONTINUUM (STC) AGENCY FIELD AGENT AND FOUNDER, DR. VOLT ALESSANDRO ARCADE-----


Sub-Entry 303: "Awaking Once Again in the Medical Bay"


"...open your eyes."


"He's barely responsive, Doctor."


"He's just being stubborn."


Sounded like...Velaska...and Elektra.


"What are we going to do with you?"


"Can he understand us?"


"Unlikely...but possible. It'll be up to Callista to make the final judgement."


Rattling of tools and equipment.


"For now..."


"Urghh...!" I felt the injection pistol touch my neck, a needle prick and---


The world went dark--


...


...


...


...how....long has it been?



My eyes fluttered open.



"...you..."


----RECOVERED DATA FRAGMENT FROM THE RESEARCH LOGS OF SPACE TIME CONTINUUM (STC) AGENCY FIELD AGENT AND FOUNDER, DR. VOLT ALESSANDRO ARCADE-----


Sub-Entry 304: "Paradise Lost"


It was a few minutes before I could speak with some coherence.


"...are you happy, now...? You stand before a broken man... I was your Commander...your friend...your family......you took Asriel away from me... You got my friends to abandon me...my own family has no time for me...


You just...replaced me.....you and Miles promised...it would never get awkward...that I'd always have a place here...but then......then I wasn't even allowed to be happy for his return. You just shooed me away...then treated me like you were someone trying to shove their grandparent into a retirement home...


Now, I've lost everything. Frisk reset the timeline...all those friendships...all that hard work...everything I ever did in that timeline is gone...


It was all for nothing...that's what a failure deserves.....nothing--"


I was cut off at that moment as Bunnie unsympathetically slapped me across the face. Hard.



"...ha....ha...so I guess you're making it official...you're finally making it tangible--"


"Baka." Bunnie's eyes narrowed. "You don't know anything."


"I'm finished trying to get a straight answer from you. I'm tired of you not making any sense. I'm just tired. And to be honest...I'm done with you."


"You think you lost everything. You whole life's work isn't some timeline. It's standing there outside the door."


"I think we know who he chose. Whether you intended it or not what good is my life's work if my work doesn't want a place in my life?"


"So that's how it is."


"We're done here. Leave."


"..." Bunnie turned and walked away.


"Go. GO!!!" I shouted. "GOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!" I grabbed the metal tray and winged it as hard as I could. Now Bunnie was a good enough ninja to sense it coming a mile away, side-step it, or even snatch it out of midair without even looking back.


But instead she let it smash her into the back of the skull. She lurched forward with a grunt. She didn't wipe the blood from the growing stain in the back of her blond hair. She didn't look back. She just exited the room.


I saw Asriel out in the hall. He looked like a scolded dog from my outburst.


He made his choice. I didn't need the salt rubbed in my wounds. I wouldn't hate him for it. Flowey had punished me enough for seven of him--one for each virtue. I didn't want to know why. I just wanted to disappear.


The dream was dead.


I had looked forward to a True Happy Ending. In time it would be the past. And what was past was prologue to what would have been greater things to open up. I was sure that time would heal everything within the Dreemurr family. This was proof that happy endings don't just happen.


I wasn't trying to force one. If that were the case I would have taken Frisk's place a long time ago...impersonated a human and just played the "game" myself as their replacement. But I wasn't about to stand by and do nothing...let Chara-Wraith make a mess of a timeline...I just knew they were getting outside help to rewrite what should have happened. I just knew there was a conspiracy that I couldn't see......heh...who would have believed it...I became Rotor.


"It was right there..."


To call it paradise in the making was arrogant. I knew that humans and monsters would have their complications integrating; that society would have ups an downs and age-old prejudices to overcome. But the theroy was still sound. It could have been even better.


"I guess you really are home, Asriel."


I couldn't even get help from Neo Arcadia. The thought of having my name legally changed to distance myself from the Arcades crossed my mind. This is what the Council wanted, right? For all their agents to no longer have a past...have attachments. Shame. I met the requirements but now they had complete control over my work. Kommand was the only one who could access it now.


In the end I had no one left to turn to.


"I don't want or need anyone..."


----RECOVERED DATA FRAGMENT FROM THE RESEARCH LOGS OF SPACE TIME CONTINUUM (STC) AGENCY FIELD AGENT AND FOUNDER, DR. VOLT ALESSANDRO ARCADE-----


Sub-Entry 305: "I Would Not Call For Help. But Someone Else Came to Ask For Mine"


The injections and the treatments came regularly. I refused to look anyone in the eye. Madam Fate finally won. Her champion...her black knight was out there, laughing at how far his mortal enemy had fallen...how far I had fallen.


Days were passing. Weeks. Of all things, time was the one thing I never lost track of...until now. I was constantly woozy.


I had no visitors. None whatsoever. Nobody cared. My past was under the microscope. My present was in shambles. My future no longer existed.


It stung.


It hurt.


It was a horrible feeling; day and night. To what ends was I being medically treated? I couldn't die so it wasn't a matter of keeping me allive. Sometimes...it felt more like it was a matter of keeping me in constant punishment.


"So. This is how my story ends."


Where did I go wrong? For the record, that's a rhetorical question. I knew what mistakes I made. I knew what led to this. What I didn't know was...why was I always so powerless against them in the end.


"In the end...I'm glad it was you, Asriel. I'm glad it was you and not him."


I wasn't really sure what I was saying at that point. I was just...killing time and saying...whatever came to mind. Probably borrowing a movie quote...something like Donny Brasco or the like. Whatever.


"Frankly...at this moment I'd rather be W.D. Gaster than Volt Arcade. At least that way no one would remember I exist."


I wasn't sure if the things I was seeing were real, hallucinations, or if I was asleep and just dreaming.


The nightmares stopped feeling like nightmares...they stopped feeling like anything at all. Just numb visions that I had no idea if they'd come to pass or not. I started pondering things...like if Lisa was going to just...leave me behind and re-marry.


Months ago...I would have NEVER thought this way...would I have? It was...hard to tell what I would have done. It was...hard to put certain thoughts together.


I was seconds away from attempting to find out if I could even demorph as drugged up as I probably was.


The scent was unmistakable.


I opened my eyes to see Miles. Orange furred. Blue-eyed. The jeans, the jacket, the high tops. Even the familiar white gloves. Took after Garfield, he did. As I had said before, he'd grown to be 6 feet since the Ecotropians last saw him. He had about my build, with more muscles. Two, big, long fox tails. I still wasn't sure how he could spin them and provide enough lift to get airborn...even at his adult size. Out of all the Ecotropians who had Mobian counterparts...the difference between Miles and Tails was vast.


"Don't try to move. It's still in your system--"


"......"


"Not very talkative, huh?"


"......"


"I've...tried to take care of them all as you asked me."


"I'm sure you've done well."


"Well...not as good as you."


"Don't patronize me. I'm not in the mood for flattery."


"Yeah...uh...well..."


Miles shifted.


"You know--"


"Just answer me this. How long have I been in this prison?"


"...well......you've away from Miranda for a month or so and it's been another month or two down here."


"Terrific."


"Listen...I know I'm not in any position to ask for help but..."


You ask for help, Miles?


"I could really use advice. Being a better leader. I know I spend a lot of time on the frontines. I'm just compelled to be both sword and shield for my team. I have to be active. You...you were always able to stay behind when you could. Let your team handle things--"


I know what he was trying to say but...how it was coming across was insulting. It was like he was just copying my notes in class so he could properly take over. And further more I know he was trying to say that I had more faith in my team's abilities to protect themselves...but he was making it sound like I wanted to have a cushy desk job to foist all the work and danger onto my team.


An awkward silence. The silence was then broken by the chirp of Miles' TAO link. I recognized the tones. It mean that it was a notice for all members in UCIAT.


Miles put his TAO away and looked a bit uncomfortable for a moment.


"I'm sorry...I can't do this anymore."


----RECOVERED DATA FRAGMENT FROM THE RESEARCH LOGS OF SPACE TIME CONTINUUM (STC) AGENCY FIELD AGENT AND FOUNDER, DR. VOLT ALESSANDRO ARCADE-----


Sub-Entry 306: "The Revelations That Changed Everything"



"I know you're not quitting on--" What I was saying was an echo of what I said to Sans. But I didn't have time to finish. Miles cut me off.


"No, that's not what I meant. The alert said it was safe now and...I know someone else wanted to tell you before--"


"Tell me what?" I narrowed my eyes.


"The reason we all drove you away."


"Start talking, Prowler." I was about ready to lose it.


"First of all...it wasn't Bunnie's choice to do so." Miles looked off to the side. "There's always a choice but...it's never an easy one."


"Why?!"


"Actually...we should start with...who."


"What are you--"


"Bunnie didn't set this in motion. It was Asriel."


"........."


That hit me like a ton of bricks. Well. The knife was in. What a twist ending. I was the punchline of a god awful M. Night Shamalayan movie. I should have seen the "signs".


"You don't understand."


"I understand enough."


"No, let me explain."


"Let him explain." It was the closest I'd gotten to hard feelings against Asriel.


Miles squeezed his eyes shut. "Will you just listen! He did it to save you. To save all of us! This whole world was in danger and you were the trigger."


"Start making some sense. Quickly."


Miles started pacing. "This was done at the behest of this...Kommand person you know."


So that's how far the betrayal went. I was played from the beginning, full circle?


"Volt, I hate to ask about classified info but...what do you know about the Pico-Machine Virus?"


In that very moment everything just came to a screeching halt and suddenly things were a lot less clear than I had dismissed them. Everything I thought I knew was wrong. With just three words he made my living nightmare pull a 180. I suddenly had a deep fear pop up in the recesses of my mind...a memory which I thought was dead and buried.


If it seemed like this was just something pulled out of left field, need I remind anyone reading this that the unstable UTPR timelines were not my first case assignment. Far from it. By now...it was a number so large most people don't learn them until algebra and calculus. This was a dark corner I had forgotten. One that I poured all my efforts into forgetting.


"Where did you hear that term? No...nevermind. Kommand must've leaked it."


"She told Asriel about it."


"Why would she do that?" I backpedaled a bit to give him the benefit of the doubt.


"Asriel...was the closest we had to an S.T.C. agent. He's not even in training yet. But he was also on your side. He served as liason to Kommand, bring Bunnie and me in on it first, then others. Kommand...told me about many of the others in the Council's pocket. Anyway...she warned Asriel about it and he confided in Bunnie and from there they brought everyone into the circle, informing them to varying degrees of need-to-know."


I addressed the Pico-Machine Virus issue.


"That's forbidden technology. A confiscated super bio-weapon that many claim only a 13th level intelligence has any hope of fully comprehending. While not the scale and scope of the Ultimate Annihilator, it could be programmed to be just as bad. Fully customizable, machine colony that's even smaller than nanites and can be tailored to be far more advanced and sophisticated. You can't detect it without the kind of equipment and software that Kommand has. Even STC-Agency would be clueless about it.


A life form infected with them can become an infinite number of science projects. Living weapon. Mindless or even completely aware puppet; the former for if you want your doll to have amnesia and no recollection what they did, the former to make sure they remembered every second of it, thus breaking their mind. Mutations, super-powers, just about anything."


"For the last month or so, you've been...going through a massive treatment and withdraw of the virus."


"What?! That's impossible. I was never exposed to it."


"Actually...that's were you were wrong. It was in you before the Unstable Timeline missions began. Even before you found UTPR-3224."


"...how?"


"I'm getting to that. This machine colony was coded with very intricate layers of programming, each layer set to accomplish a number of tasks...each layer triggered by intelligent thought. Certain things in your own psyche would have lit the fuses. One neurotransmitter out of trillions upon trillions upon trillions could have done the job."


If what he was saying was right...this was a far scarier catch-22 than anything I'd ever encountered. If he was going where I think he was going...


"Okay...take it slow. Where does this begin?" I glared. Miles handed me a report with Kommand's logo on it.


"You can safely read this now."


Safely read it? Was that a trigger?


"This may be the next generation in nano-electro-mechanical hypnotic suggestion...and much much more. It starts on the first page."


I read and became disturbed by what I read. "Do you remember our ties to Section 9 Public Security?" He asked.


Immediately the Laughing Man case popped into my head. "Interceptors?!"


"Yes. This started as something the Council secretly put into operation. It was supposed to tighten the leash on their operatives to prevent further...anomalies like you from happening. And...hopefully reign in the anomalies that were already out in the field. Ones like you and the agents you've inspired to think for themselves."


I thought back to some...actual allies. I knew them by their pseudonyms. I refused to call them "agents' but rather address them as I addressed myself. I thought of Dr. Simon Aegis Nicodimus...Dr. Silus Wolfgang Faraday...Dr. Mary Alia Persephone...Professor Kimberly Luna Copernicus. Dr. Magnus Alexander Daedalus. Actual comrades I had when the chips were down. If their names sounded made-up, they were. With the exception of myself...agents of STC couldn't remember their birth names or much else of their past.


"The anomaly they're trying to eradicate is choice. This is right out of those Matrix movies. I never would have thought the Council would give any weight to a plan out of one too many works of science fiction. Are they so desperate to enforce their images that they have to prioritize total obedience?"


"Well it gets worse. They already put the interceptors in you and were going to use it as reliable real-time surveillance. You were the Council's alpha test."


All it would have taken was a mandatory health screening and they could have slipped them in under the guise of a placebo.


"This is Al Dente grade right here." Suddenly I didn't find his idea of video camera suppositories so farfetched. Why take pictures of your colon for drugs and weapons being smuggled in when you could tap all five senses of a person. The ultimate surveillance tool.


"Kommand discovered they'd become active once you returned to Miranda. The memo you received was supposed to initiate the first layer of programming; it was supposed to collectively copy all of your memories and experiences here in Miranda City and prepare them for a massive upload to a private planetary serve at the Council's behest. They planned to go over them with a fine-toothed comb so they could go on record with every one of your actions they considered a violation. They'd be able to confiscate all of your unauthorized wares in the X-Vault. And...they were hoping your memories of the time you spent with Asriel would be enough for them to consider the entire AU something to amputate from the Axis of Reality."


"Those--"


"But then it took a nasty turn. Someone else discovered them and hijacked them to put additional layers of code into them. The Interceptors became perfect unaware hosts for a much smaller scale pico-virus colony--infecting them not just at the bio-electronic wash level, but down below atomic and sub-atomic level. Quantum tech that might be a generation or two beyond Scott O'Conner's."


"Someone else--" I cut myself off sharply. "...HIM." My temper suddenly flared even hotter than Sans' threat to dunk Asriel...our Asriel.


I had all but flat out directly said his name and stated explicitly that this was his doing. I dropped his name over and over in my reports but just now I finally accepted that the grace period was over. My arch-enemy had officially caught up to me from the last time he made my life Hell.


I guess...having this long oasis of home...all the good times just made it easy to deny he'd never take this away from me. There was no chance I was going to catch up to him any time soon to settle the score. Wherever he was now...he was long gone and gloating. Maybe he was never there; just his followers working behind the scenes as always.


There's nothing more aggravating than a sworn enemy who won't even show himself. Heck, that shape-shifting wizard demon thing that plagued a samurai at least personally handled torturing him and destroying the time portals that lead back to the past.


"Yeah...the new layers of programming would have...opened up a lot of options. A lot of remote-activated options."


"Like what?"


"Well...one of those is a beacon for a transport signal--"


Suddenly the danger level became clear. Very clear. Too clear. And all of a sudden my reservations about my entire crew dissolved away.


"Allowing someone in the Council or even...an STC traitor to jump straight into my only safe haven. Let me guess what the trigger was; the moment I became aware of this in my system? Just a warning from a friend, my bosses, or even a suggestion from an enemy? Even reading something offhandedly like this very report?"


"Yes. The moment Kommand or anyone else informed you...the moment you discovered it on your own...the moment you figured this out, it would have gone into effect. The conscious thought would trigger the body to begin its defenses. The virus would activate in retaliation, becoming a chain-reaction of any possible processes. As long as you were here in Miranda City, it was primed and ready to go. As long as you were in the Underground it would be dormant. But...it was engineered to block out contact from anyone. Especially Kommand while you were off world. A way to make sure you couldn't be warned by any method."


It made sense now. What better way to cause chaos than to put you in an unwinnable situation. A virus embedded into your atomic structure that could do just about anything if not everything; and the trigger was you becoming aware of it. All someone would have to do was just say a trigger word or show a picture or something. Who could say how much it would have taken for the right neurotransmitters to fire?


In short...the idea was to cause isolation. That many friends looking out for you. It needed only one of them to warn you for it to be Game Over. It only needed me to figure it out on my own for it to be Game Over, too.


"What other things could it do?"


"We found a whole slew of downloadable bio-terrorism options, a gateway generator, various time and space modifying tools, mind control, and other nasty implements that could have turned you into a living bomb. It's like a Russian Roulette of city or even continent-wide calamity."


I finally understood. I finally realized how hard it was for Asriel...for EVERYONE to push me away without telling me why. They needed me to feel unwanted and leave of my own volition. Furthermore, if that surveillance programming was on the level...it meant that they needed the enemy to think my team and my family no longer cared about me...and for the feeling to be mutual. But...I shouldn't have been able to be swayed that easily.


"Bunnie and Callista...had to break their solemn rule about entering a person's mind without permission. They've...been psychically altering your thoughts and emotions to try to de-fuse the mental link to the Pico-Machine Virus Colony (PMVC)."


The Major and Asriel's mother were the reason my thoughts and feelings were so radically different? Of course. They rewired my psyche. I really WASN'T myself all this time. Since April began...it was more than just a case of the blues. This was mood-altering. Brainwashing. Memory-restricting. All things that reputable psychics could or should be excommunicated for. Things that I could have disowned them first for if they didn't have a good reason.


Miles handed me back my holo-tablet full of mission logs and showed me the last couple dozen entries. This person writing...I didn't recognize them. Was this really me?


"Kommand spent a long time trying to come up with a cure and a way to remove the Interceptors. Plus a way to make sure the collective data didn't find its way off world. And finally...the last few months have been administering a cure to get the entire pico-machine collective out of every atom in your being. Only now is it safe to let you back in, Volt."


I felt like a heel. Granted it wasn't entirely my fault but...I still felt bad. This whole thing was meant to protect me. It made sense. With me disabled, Asriel was the only one who could take up the STC-Agent mantle.


What a horribly complicated evil plot! This really was a super villain's work.


Suddenly it made further sense why he gave me back the Bracer. Obviously it could be tracked. I didn't need the Council or my enemy tracing it to Asriel's doorstep. In close enough proximity, the PMVC colony could not only hack my Bracer, but his. It could be used as external peripheral sensors and scanners; a way to extend its reach beyond my eyes, ears, and other three senses. If it could reconfigure my body chemistry to manufacture any number of bio-hazards...wow. This was TRULY terrifying tech.


My enemy really thought this through. No. That wasn't right. He had someone else think it through. If this was who I thought it was, then he wouldn't plan anything. He just...did things. Like Heath Ledger's Joker. He was an anarchist. So the question was...


"He didn't do this alone, did he?"


Miles turned to the doorway. "Bring in the prisoner."


That's when UCIAT security, dragged someone in. Someone in a lab coat...someone with STC-Emblems on their person.


I didn't have to ask who. I knew exactly.


"Dr. Judas Benedict Archimedes." My expression doured further as I climbed out of bed with some difficulty. If ever a more fitting, more obviously-untrustworthy pseudonym. So why was I the only one in S.T.C. who saw it a mile away while the Council practically threw me out of the room for suggesting it?


All of a sudden a lot of elements from the world I protected my world from were raining down out of nowhere. All of a sudden the things out of left field were revealing themselves as being very connected. Hidden dangers I wasn't even aware of...that I wouldn't even think to bring up all those log entries ago...it was all unfolding here and now.


"He's apparently been sneaking around town for some time. Since the last time you dropped in from your previous ongoing mission on Mobius. Asriel discovered him trying to hide outside of space-time during one of your visits to the Underground. Kommand positively ID-ed him. He's been a plant all this time."


It all made sense. A felllow agent of STC. The doctor designation was superficial. We were supposed to drop that title when we became agents in order to distinguish us from "The Doctors". But anomalies like me held onto the title. We were scientists not monkeys volunteering to be shot into space.


"The only question now is...why?" Miles scratched his head.


I didn't need to ask why.


"Here's why..." I grabbed a hold of his STC-Insignea and ripped it off only to find...!


"Adonis' Crest. He's become a follower of Chaopolis." I sneered.


"The universe has to return to the state it belongs in...without rules, without laws, without structure! An endless cycle of chaos!" Judas snarled at me.


The response of someone truly brainwashed. But even without that much...Judas Archimedes was a greedy d***. A real Chill Penguin type. Money was always the object.


I shook my head. "What he seeks is impossible. The InfinityVerse doesn't stay in a state of chaos. Sooner or later it reaches equilibrium and then...entropy. But even that doesn't last forever. Life happens. Rules get made and broken. Forces unbalance. The whole thing starts all over again. Another big bang. Face it. No world can exist without Fate's sister as her polar opposite. As long as there is Fate, there is Destiny. Time is infinite in both directions. Accept it."


"That's not what the Lantern Corps believe. There IS a Beginning of Time and there has to be an End of Time. It's only a matter of time before he breaks it all down into everlasting chaos at the end of it all!"


I picked up some gauze from the table and some cotton swabs. I shoved the cotton in his mouth then began wrapping around Archimedes' head, only covering his mouth, leaving his nose open. Not like suffocating would kill him. Another person that had no business opening the Genie's Lamp and Pandora's Box. I bet he lied about which of the sisters' contracts he signed.


"I think you know what happens next."


That was when Kommand warped into the room, this time wearing the Nameless Man/Codename V (for Vendetta) getup with the Guy Fawkes mask. Her ears were tucked under the wig and hat pretty well. Old movie-theft habits were hard to break.


"He ready to go?"


"Almost." I growled. I picked up my Neuralizer. "Just a few questions before he's off. I'm going to set this for a random amount of time with each question. Simple yes or no answer. First time I don't like what response I get, you have that many years of your memoires taken off."


Kommand issued each of us ray ban shades.


"First question. Are you operating alone?"


A nod.


"Second question. Were you the one that infected me with this abomination?"


A nod.


"Third question. Was I the only one you infected?"


A nod.


"Fourth question. Are there any double agents active in STC besides you?"


A shake of the head. No.


"Fifth question. Were you being paid handsomely for this?"


A shake of the head no. I didn't really believe him, knowing Archimedes in past encounters.


"Final question. Did you really think you were going to get away with it?"


A nod.


"Wrong answer. By the way...that part about a random number of years. I lied." I showed the indictor. His eyes widened.


"The number of years you've been immortal plus your age before then. That amounts to a total memory wipe. Even down to the first things you learn as a new-born. Get the picture?"


He tried to scream through the bandages.


"Yeah. You understand. So I leave you with this one final thing to reflect on for the next couple of seconds. I liked you better when you were just in it for the money. At least then you were straight about your intentions."


And with that...a flash. And his mind was gone. I had given him the ultimate punishment for scientists. What every scientist feared. Oblivion. It was why the Council chose erasing a person from past, present, and future as the final punishment. No one wants to be forgotten. No one wants to cease to exist. No one wants it all to end.


"Kommand...get this trash out of my sight. I need some time alone to reflect."


Kommand teleported out with the prisoner. Security left the room. And Miles soon bid me fairwell as I climbed back into bed and rolled over. I think...that's when the hurting finally stopped. But I still didn't feel any better about any of this. I still lost the Underground and my place in STC. And right now...I was in a vacuum in the only home I knew.


----RECOVERED DATA FRAGMENT FROM THE RESEARCH LOGS OF SPACE TIME CONTINUUM (STC) AGENCY FIELD AGENT AND FOUNDER, DR. VOLT ALESSANDRO ARCADE-----


Sub-Entry 307: "Dear Old Dad"



Velaska didn't announce any visitors after Miles got everything squared away.


But there was one person who didn't NEED to conform to visitor rules and such. If he walked in...you let him.


"Dad."


"Hey, champ."


"I was starting to think you'd never call me that again."


"Ooo-wee. Bunnie really did a number on your psyche. I raised you better than that."


"Excuse me if I don't exactly sound like myself. I'm not sure how much of me is the genuine article after they neuro-hacked me."


"Don't be too harsh on them. We all took a vote and decided it was the best way to go to keep you protected."


"With protection like that who needs enemies?"


"Volt, I don't expect you to come around that quickly. Even I don't want to admit to how much we all sacrificed to put this plan into motion. Miles tried talking me out of it for a while. Part of why he stayed on the front lines was that he didn't want to show his face. He felt kinda...disgraced by his role in the grand scheme. Disrespecting his hero like that."


Me? Miles' hero? But I guess it was a matter of perspective. I always felt he surpassed me a long time ago.


"This plan has been in action for a long time now. Kommand has been sitting on it for quite a bit."


"Of course she has..." I rolled my eyes. "So I guess you know the story about her."


"Only a very small circle know." He assured. "Bunnie and Asriel are among that circle."


I didn't really want Garfield bringing up their names this early on. I'd have to...let it all sink in first.


"It sounds like you know a lot about what happened while I wasn't here to overhear."


"Yeah...I've..been keeping tabs on everyone."


----RECOVERED DATA FRAGMENT FROM THE RESEARCH LOGS OF SPACE TIME CONTINUUM (STC) AGENCY FIELD AGENT AND FOUNDER, DR. VOLT ALESSANDRO ARCADE-----


Sub-Entry 308: "After I Left Bunnie..."



"...so...why don't you go ahead and tell me what happened after I left Miranda City. I know I'm not going to get it from Bunnie. So rewind the clock for me. This plan took off the moment she passive-aggressively kicked me out of town."


"Well...it's like this..."


~~~~~~~~


"I can't feel...ANYTHING." I walked away from her.


"VOLT!"


"At least you had the decency not to call me Commander. Don't bother telling Miles I was here. Furthermore...if you mention anything about this conversation to Asriel..."


"You are in no position to make demands."


"Am I?"


I turned, my hands crackling with electricity. Her nanites made her frighteningly more vulnerable to electricity than anyone else in town. All it would take is one jolt and her pain would be as excruciating as my own. But...no. She wasn't worth it.


"I never would have imagined you'd decide his path. I guess if his home world is going to lose a prince, it's going to gain a time-traveller."


I stormed off and took the Time Machine back to the Underground.


"...he was here, wasn't he?"


"He was."


Asriel looked off to the side.


"It's for his own good. And ours. It will work out in the end."


"Just a little longer..."


Asriel tightened his fists and squeezed his eyes shut.


"This is wrong!" He sobbed as he choked up a sobbed. "Why is this happening to him? Why do we have to do this to him?"


"Asriel...there's no other way. He's been put into a situation where he's a danger to everyone in this town and doesn't even know it. If he learns that truth, then the trigger is pulled. Kommand isn't sure what will happen but the likelihood is Volt will revive to see its aftermath. And knowing he caused it......it will do far more permanent damage than the temporary damage we're causing him. He doesn't need ANOTHER major failure on his conscience.


What we're doing is horrible. But until we diffuse it we can't be close to him. None of us can put on a happy face without him figuring out something is wrong. As long as he things we've turned on him...as long as my psychic circuit breakers hold, the evil that's been fused with his atomic structure will not activate."


"This is.....*sniffle*....*sob*...the second time I've betrayed my best friend." Asriel hugged his knees to his chest and let the tears flow. "I don't deserve his forgiveness."


"...neither of us do." Bunnie turned away. "My ancestors curse me for breaking my code of servitude. All of us will have our own Hell to pay for our common enemy's gambit."


Asriel looked up at her.


"When this is over, Asriel...when we overcome this...I vow that this injustice will one day be rectified. The one responsible will not remain above the consequences."


Asriel's eyes turned yellow. "You never give up on true friends...you never give up on family. Some day...whoever did this to us...I'll make sure they never do it to anyone else. Not for revenge. For justice."


Bunnie nodded.


"We must update Miles on the situation. And report in to Garfield-sama."


"Has he found the enemy's servant, yet?"


"He's closing in from afar. The virtual paper-trail is almost reaching its end. Seems their liason has been closer than any of us could have ever imagined." Bunnie narrowed her eyes. "I know you won't understand the reference, but the Commander will not be happy we have another "Jack Hanos" case.


"Mr. Red mentioned that name before. I guess I'll learn about it when he feels like explaining it?"


"Or any of us for that matter." Bunnie lowered her gaze.


"Come, Asriel. We have to prepare for--"


"Yeah. That."


~~~~~~~~~~~~


"I think it's about time I heard the rest of the story. At the very least the stories of at least some of my crew who were in on it."


"I think that's only fair."


----RECOVERED DATA FRAGMENT FROM THE RESEARCH LOGS OF SPACE TIME CONTINUUM (STC) AGENCY FIELD AGENT AND FOUNDER, DR. VOLT ALESSANDRO ARCADE-----


Sub-Entry 309: "Behind the Scenes":



"Let's start with Violet."


It must've been quite a dance to get her into the circle without telling her who Kommand really was. Someone this crucial to making the counter-plan to Archimedes' gambit had to know just enough without learning too much and endangering her own future.


"Yeah. Let's."


"So...after you left Computer Valhalla..."


~~~~


"...dammit." Violet's expression doured.


"He's out of hearing range. We can talk now."


Garfield emerged from the back room as Violet came up out of the trap door behind her desk and consoles. The trap door that led through secret tunnels to Rabbotou Dojo and UCIAT HQ.


"I've been looking at the programming for this thing that this Kommand person sent Asriel. This thing is VERY real and VERY evil. It took a lot of all-nighters just to begin to make sense of it and finally I'm starting to decode it."


Garfield crossed his arms.


"A single thought could trigger this mess. It's been unpacking itself for a while now. I'd say it accelerated the process when Elektra did the tests on him and found the dust and blood in his system."


"Which alerted the virus that it was in danger of being discovered."


"We wouldn't have discovered it with our technology level. But as long as the Pico-Drive engine foresaw the danger, it was ready to adapt at a moment's notice."


"But not a full trigger."


"No. Not enough time had passed for that. It finished completely decompressing and interweaving with his sub-atomic structure by the beginning of April."


Garfield frowned.


"I've made enemies in my lifetime but none who've every gone remotely this far. I knew when I turned Volt loose on the world he'd follow his own path. Make his own legacy. And make as many or more enemies as I have."


"Oh this just screams sadistic lessons in life that don't need to be taught. We both know what the end game of this is."


Garfield sipped his coffee.


"It's not the end result but the by-product that was the goal." He narrowed his eyes. "The isolation. The rejection. Everything we had no choice but to put him through to keep him and everyone around him and us safe...this thing was designed to put him in a situation where he was walking alone. This wasn't just an attack on him. This was an attack on ALL OF US."


"It put us in a situation where we had no choice but to abandon him. I don't think the virus ever meant to be triggered. This guy...he's stripping our ex-commander down to the bone."


"A feeling I'm sure he, she, or it is all too familiar...and comfortable with."


"A sociapath, megalomaniac, and mysonthrope in one. It took a special kind of screw-job by the S.T.C. Council to create this."


"Volt protected us for years by keeping as much S.T.C. details from us as possible. But this Kommand person is pretty much a well-spring of what he does behind the scenes."


Violet paced.


"I know I haven't had the most experience with friendship...with being a friend. But I gotta tell you. My role in this...it feels like a massive step back. I'm not the easiest person to put up with, Garfield. I get that. I know that a lot of what I do hugs the line.


Seriously...abandoning him even temporarily? This is not friendship. This is disgusting. I've done something I don't approve of. I look in the mirror and the person that looks back is stained with betrayal. How am I going to make it up to him? I'm his third in command and he deserves better than this. I swear...when I find the dirt bag that did this to him...did this to ALL of us......"


"There is no simple answer, Vi. I'm the closest he has to a father and I shut him out. And it just burns me up that this was the only option we were left with. I wasn't going to sacrifice my son and a city full of people for his enemy's sick and twisted game. We have a long road ahead if we're ever going to earn back the trust we threw away just to keep him safe. Just to defuse that bomb inside him."


"This magna-code...I don't even have a name for something this advanced......this is something way beyond my pay grade."


"Then it's good you're not working for a paycheck on this one. This one is--"


"For family." Violet nodded. "How long are we going to have to save him by betraying him? We've been pulling a reverse "Fate of the Furious" on him for months now. Honestly. I could throw up right now with how each of us has to treat him just to keep Bunnie's mental inhibitors stable...from keeping that one thought out of his head that will do the deed."


"As long as it takes for Kommand to make the antivirus."


"Whoever Kommand is...they're good. REALLY good. Like...my Hybrid ability times a million good."


If Violet only knew. But that's the reason even after all this blew over she couldn't know. But Bunnie...she would figure it out. It would be her, Asriel's, and my secret.


~~~~~~~~


"So. Mitzi?"


~~~~~~~~


"...That's all I'm getting at. You don't have to drop her out of the nest all at once. It's not like birds learning to fly. But you do have to grow out of it, just as she has to grow into it."


I could't believe I wasn't getting any more sympathy than this. I guess I should have kept that in mind considering I was talking to someone who wasn't even dating let alone had kids of her own. Maybe it was a little rude of me...but what did she know about being a parent?


Whoah. Where did that come from? I'm...just a little stressed. That's all.


"Commander, she'll be fine."


I left in a huff.


A while later after I was long out of the area...


A knock on Mitzi's back door.


Mitzi opened the door...and let Gadget in.


"....I did a bad thing. I lied to big brother about going out with friends."


"I know...we...did what we had to do." Mitzi hung her head.


Gadget threw her arms around Mitzi and cried her eyes out.


"I'm a horrible sister!"


"We're all horrible. We're driving him away and there's nothing we can do about it until this blows over."


"I hate it! I hate it so much!"


"I wonder if Nermal will look at me with the same eyes again. This is no better than what Helen did to me. He deserves better than us."


"What if...what if we can't get him back? What if he stays in that place forever?"


"He won't. He'll come back. He has to. He has to if we're going to cure him."


For the longest time the Twice As Nice Mice cried in each other's arms.


"Why...why is this happening?"


"I don't know, Gadget. I just don't know..."


~~~~~~~~~~


"So...Team Acorn?"


"Sally was the most pissed out of all of us..."


~~~~~~~~~~~~


"DAMMIT!!!" Sally had cratered the wall and the ground.


"Take it easy, Sally!"


"I'm just so volcanic! So nuclear! So friggin' livid! Who does this guy think he is turning us against our ex-commander? Giving us the choice to stab him in the back and keep this world safe or turning him into a bomb or a black hole or a teleport beacon for who knows how big an invasion army with as little a single sentence uttered?"


"Makes me hot under the collar too, but I don't want to be filing a report as to why the E.R.R.O.R. team has to suddenly do city maintenance."


Sally stormed back and forth. "Someone crossed a line. You don't screw with family! Immediate or extended. Or even metaphorical blood brother! There is going to be Hell to pay when I find out who made jackasses out of all of us!"


This was probably Sally at her most Undyne. Normally it wasn't this easy to get her to lose her temper. In the past it was Violet who would REALLY make you regret making her angry. This was a side to Sally that came with the reboot of her life.


"I do have good news. Garfield struck a deal with Galvan Enterprises and Cerebrocrustacean Incorporated. We'll be having a joint effort between the most technologically advanced super-conglomerate industries on the planet to hopefully create the pico-colony proto-culture that we can refine into progressive layers of antivirus pico-machines. Keep in mind this goes beyond our world's current progress level. Pico-machines are the next evolution of quantum science." Willie explained.


"That's a start. How long will it take to synthesize?"


"Each one is going to take a month to several months. If all goes according to plan a total cure sometime by fall."


"Going on half a year's worth of treatment?"


"In which he has to be kept in a coma."


"Mode."


"Very mode."


"This is scores of un-shway. I hate feeling so helpless in the midst of this while treating the Commander like trash!"


"I feel like a Kopy Kat." Honey smoldered.


"How's Asriel taking it?"


"The worst out of all of us."


"I don't blame him. He was the one who pulled the trigger on the counterattack. He was the one that Kommand trusted to break Volt's trust in all of us."


"He's never going to live this down."


"Are any of us?"


~~~~~~~~~


"And Rotor?"


"You need to ask?"


~~~~~~~


"...that's your tenth one. Maybe you should slow down a little."


"No offense. But I'll say when I've had enough."


"Yeah...but you do realize you're not going to get drunk off virgin blueberry daquirris, right?"


"...I know."


"Bro?"


"Yeah, Skeetz? Need a refill on your root beer float?"


"No..." Skeeter looked away. "Are we trash?"


"Yeah. We kinda are."


"Will it be too late to say we're sorry?"


"...I hope not."


~~~~~~~~~~


"So. Everyone, huh?"



"There are a lot more I'm leaving out. Everyone on the planet who knows you and knows the situation is basically beside themselves. We've even let a few off world in on it. Just the ones we trust most, mind you."



"There's a flaw in this thing. How the Followers of Chaopolis know I wouldn't trigger it while in the Underground?"


I think that was a more pressing question to me than the possibility that Alphys could have discovered it in one of her scans. But then I reminded myself that even with all of her greatest technological developments, with the very peak of her creative talents, the gap between her progress level and the one of those who created the Pico Drive Engine in the first place was immeasurably large.


Like comparing Galvan Enterprises to the Tetrimand Corporation; one which specializes in next generation nano-tech and gravity science vs. one that made bulldozers and weight-lifting equipment. Actually when I put it that way it was more like I was comparing us to Undyne than Alphys. But the point still stood. There was no chance she was going to discover it. It was a miracle that Kommand figured it out in the first place.


"I don't think it would have mattered one way or another. We don't even know if it COULD trigger in the Underground. While the goal was to strike at your home, another ruined dimension to the pile would have still been a victory for them. You don't need another Unversal City hanging around your neck."



"But hypothetically, if the virus was meant for Miranda City, what was to stop Kommand from rerouting me to an unoccupied place and warning me and letting me take the fall where it couldn't do any harm? Just letting me re-spawn if it was a bomb or trapping the invasion fleet in limbo? I'd find a way out of it...somehow."


"You're dealing with a lot of theoretical situations. We didn't know if the virus would stay active upon leaving Miranda City. Our only fail safe was that nobody in the Underground knew about it. Alphys was the only one who even knew a portion of your secrets. It was a very slight gamble one way or another if she'd discover the virus on her own. Either way, boom...someone's world gets wiped out. Either way...they gave you the love and attention that we couldn't until Kommand came up with the antidote. We...just didn't count on the Reset."


I thought back to what Frisk had said. I couldn't prove it...but I knew it was Adonis' handiwork. He set that up, too. If the virus didn't trigger in Miranda City...he'd take this away from me...from Asriel. How cruel. How disgusting.


"Yeah...his followers thought of everything so he wouldn't have to."


I sighed.


"Well. The comfort comes...better late than never."


----RECOVERED DATA FRAGMENT FROM THE RESEARCH LOGS OF SPACE TIME CONTINUUM (STC) AGENCY FIELD AGENT AND FOUNDER, DR. VOLT ALESSANDRO ARCADE-----


Sub-Entry 310: "I Was Never Forgotten":



In the week that followed, my strength and sanity started coming back. The first to visit was Callista. She explained to me the different psychic circuit breakers and prods to certain parts of my brain such as the apoplaxia region that controlled rage.


"I'm so sorry, Ex-Commander. I feel so ashamed having to resort to something so...unforgivable. I won't make excuses. It was touch and go trying to keep your mind from triggering the cyber-virus."


Of course I forgave her.


Scott was next. He related to me his tales of feeling betrayed. Of what it was like to not know who your real friends and enemies are.


As a sort of...closure to his own sorrows, he offered one of his old army pins. It didn't feel right taking it from him, plus it did come from Vorostovian Military...but I accepted and we shared a salute. Even though were were technically both civilians. But Arlene insisted Scott keep his rank, and the thought of being a former soldier of STC and a retired UCIAT commander just didn't mesh with me.


"Thank you, Colonel."


"Thank YOU, Commander."


A shared salute and he was on his way. I didn't ask him or Callie about Asriel. I think it was best if I didn't think about it until I was ready.


"It was totally mode of us snubbing you like that, Commander. We're total bojos." Sally offered me a multimedia player and headphones. "I hope Willie's and my latest remix is at least some kind of a start to steer us back on track."


"I'll give it a listen."


Lupe came by.


"Lupe? Seriously? Buttercups?" I looked dismally at the flowers.


"Too soon?" She asked.


"The...ironic sentiment is appreciated but...really...I think I want to avoid flowers for a bit."


Well. I was in Goat Son's sandals, now. Guess I'd be spending time in the Nature Preserve getting over my fear, huh?


One by one, I'd get a visitor, practically every 20 minutes or so. Apologies and gifts.


"...I've been a lousy son-in-law. To make up for it, I'll sneak a steak or a burger in for you every day."


"That's...a bit overkill. Especially if you make one of your multi-decker specials. But...thanks."


Even my own family was in on it. My twin daughters almost squeezed the life out of me, hugging me and crying and begging for me not to be mad at them.


Lisa was equally downtrodden. I could tell she was about to lose it from pushing me away for so long. Asriel had really done a good job explaining just how grave my situation was.


I even got a few unexpected visits.


"Mentor."


"Ray and I have been briefed. My condolences." Egon and Ray had come all the way from 1980's New York, off world.


"It's okay, Egon. I can still fall back on the X-Vault if I ever need to do some ghostbusting around town."


"I think that seems extraordinarily unlikely."


"Yeah. It really does."


I ended up getting a Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man plush out of it. I think it was Slimer's idea.


At the end of the day, Splinter was the last to visit me. He used some of his martial science techniques to speed my recovery. He also offered some advice and disdain for Bunnie's methods. I should have known she didn't get her plan from his side of the martial arts training. It was...comforting somehow.


"Find peace now, Volt-san. Even a stormy ocean may become a still lake."


But the ones who stayed away were...the ones I needed to talk to most.


The area was piled up with gifts from friends...and bribery from some who were trying to get in my good graces in the hopes of getting his way. Not going to work, Al Dente. I had no control over your psyche evalutations, Antoine. Also I was going to make sure the both of you got what was coming to you once I was out of here. While everyone else was in it for the greater good, you two were in it just for fun...or semblance of fun, in Al's case.


Maybe it was true. Maybe he really did choose his sensei to be his best friend over me. Maybe...it was just the psychic circuit breakers that hadn't quite worn off or broken down. Callista would begin removing them as time went on. I began to feel a lot more...clarity of thought. Honestly...looking back on what I wrote in my logs...I was beginning to remember what I said about Monsters back in the Unstable Genocide Timeline. I had become just that...a person with so little faith and hope in his own.


Some of it was outside influence. Some was just psychically amplifying what doubts were already there and turning them against me. Bunnie was right all along. It was for my own good.


Oh well.


I could wait a little longer for Asriel and Bunnie to come around.


It looked like I was going to have plenty of time on my hands now that I was out of a job and still technically retired.


Worry about it later, Volt. This was a good time and place to rest your brain.


TO BE CONCLUDED...
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Old 06-10-2017, 12:24 PM
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Volt Alessandro Arcade Volt Alessandro Arcade is offline
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OOC: And now...the Conclusion to Project: Lost Dreemurr. Please enjoy.


----RECOVERED DATA FRAGMENT FROM THE RESEARCH LOGS OF SPACE TIME CONTINUUM (STC) AGENCY FIELD AGENT AND FOUNDER, DR. VOLT ALESSANDRO ARCADE-----


Sub-Entry 311: "Asriel's Clue Will Lead to the Truth":


It was after visiting hours.


I opened my eyes and shifted them toward the doorway.


"So. You've come."


"I...felt I had to."


"But you clearly don't want to."


Asriel hung his head.


""It's...not that I don't want to see you."


"Could have fooled me." Okay. That was rude of me.


"I deserve that." He responded.


"But what I don't deserve...is you. Your forgiveness."


I'd heard this before . In other timelines. Chara even said it. Honestly, I wanted to say it at some point...and in some form I probably already did if I could think back and remember what I put in my reports.


Plus he had said it to me...to all of us.


I could have thrown it back in his face. But...


"You did what you had to do."


I couldn't do that to him. Whether Flowey, Hyperdeath...or just Asriel. I had too much sympathy and empathy to ever hurt him even if I was hurting.


"When...Kommand......Future Violet contacted me, she said she detected the signal in your system...in your...atomic structure...the last time she beamed you out of...well wherever it is you go. She had to explain it to me several times before I understood.


I didn't want this to happen...I felt like this had happened before and I felt like I knew what was going to happen next. I'd already lost Chara because I didn't do what she said. I drove her jealousy and pain. I betrayed one friend. Then I turned right around and did it again. I'm...I'm a bad kid..."


Asriel had learned so much in the lines of vocabulary and technical jargon. He was above his academic level at this point. But...what he was saying felt like he was right back to where he started. That night I rescued him and he asked me why I didn't let him die.


"Azzy...don't say such things..." History repeating, Volt Full circle.


"I didn't want to lose you...I didn't want to lose anyone. But...I was going to have to lose you temporarily or...everyone...permanently. There's always a choice...but it's not always an easy one to make."


Where had I heard this before? Gods...did we really think that much alike?


Asriel sniffled.


"I wanted to tell her...I wanted to say...I don't like the plan. Let's forget about this. But...I...I thought about the consequences if we didn't go through with it. What...what would have happened to you. What would have happened to all of us? Would...everyone we care about just...? I couldn't let it be your fault...no...that's not what I mean. I mean...I couldn't let someone turn you into a weapon. I...couldn't stand by and do nothing. That would have made it...my fault, too."


Asriel was really starting to cry now. I could see it in his eyes. This was torture for him. He was in agony treating me so badly all this time.


"It...tore our hearts out....doing this to each other, didn't it? Me...pretending you didn't exist. You...containing all your resenstment for what I did and directing it at sensei.


I don't know how I'm going to earn back your trust after I did this to you."


"I've...got a lot of trust I need to earn back after how I treated Bunnie."


"She was expecting it from you. She knew that what she was going to do to you, she'd have it coming and more. In a way she made you hate her."


I looked on. I guess I was in for apologies from her at some point.


"She told me...that deception is unfortunately a part of the ninja tool kit. So...the best way to deceive your enemy...is to deceive your friends."


Yeah. A play out of her half-sister's book. Bunnette was closer toward the assassin's teachings of ninjitsu.


"I know you didn't come up with this plan on your own. As much as I'd like to believe it...this wasn't your style. This was someone else's..."


"Sensei and I...got help from--"


"This has Robin's fingerprints all over it. And that's a task for someone who wears gloves as part of his superhero costume."


"Yeah...it kinda was his idea."


I wasn't that surprised in the long-run. Robin did this before. When he took on the identity of Red X to infiltrate Slade's operation, he didn't tell his team mates. He drove them away. When they figured it out, their trust in him had been compromised. Before he knew it, he has forced into Slade's servitude with the lives of the other Titans hanging in the balance with the push of a button.


What I went through...was the reverse of that. Everyone know my life and anyone I was close to was in servere danger on this world...but they didn't tell me; they couldn't. A nanovirus that's thought-activated. It could have brought any REAL-TIME terrorist act directly to what I considered Holy Ground; off limits to the Council and my enemies.


It could have opened a portal right inside my own stomach. Or even a black hole. I could have been someone's willing or unwilling puppet. Or I could even have become Patient Zero for what could be a real life World War Z or the Walking Dead. Who knows what chaos could have triggered if Kommand and the medical staff not deprogrammed me and decontaminated me.


This wasn't technology that could have been detected by this world's progress level. Not even by Mainland, Appra, or Renalia. By betraying me, Kommand ended up saving me.


"I'll have to pay him back in kind." I said in a low voice...one that implied sinister motives. Or at least a desire to prank him hardcore.


"I guess you're still pretty upset about it all, aren't you?"


"Yes...but..that's not the secret I've been keeping from you."


"...what?"


"I'm...sorry but...I can't say any more just yet. But...you'll be ready to know the truth. I promise." Asriel put something into my hand.


"I have to go."


Asriel turned and headed out.


"Wait...what is...!"


How frustrated was I? In a word...hopelessly.


I looked at the paper in my hand.


These were...


"Coordinates? Off world coordinates? I've seen these coordinates before..."


There was a date and a time as well...and a note.


"When you're ready to know...we'll meet each other again here on this date on this time. Come to this place and you will understand everything. This is the only secret I will ever willingly keep from you. -Asriel."


----RECOVERED DATA FRAGMENT FROM THE RESEARCH LOGS OF SPACE TIME CONTINUUM (STC) AGENCY FIELD AGENT AND FOUNDER, DR. VOLT ALESSANDRO ARCADE-----


Sub-Entry 312: "Finding the Determination to Recover":


You're something else, Asriel. This secret of yours. It's done the impossible.


It's rekindled my determination.


With each passing day my curiosity started to build.


I had to answer the questions.


"What is this place you want me to go to? What are you hiding? Why would you keep this from me? Was the Major in on this too? What could it be?"


Once I was wracked with grief. Now I was riddled with questions I needed to answer.


I tried thinking of every possible route.


"Did he learn about the timelines?"


No...every time he talked about his world, it was always in past-tense. While he did put one over on me over the whole...abandoned friendship thing...I was absolutely sure he didn't know. After the talk in the med bay, I was convinced he didn't keep this secret as a way of turnabout. It would have been fair play but that's just not the kind of person he is. Asriel is most assuredly not spiteful by nature.


Maybe he was in trouble? Maybe he was just protecting the ones he loved and needed help? No...that didn't feel right either. He'd tell me and anyone else in that matter. Besides...he already protected everyone else and me from the unseen danger. It hardly seemed likely he'd have another thing to protect us from at the same time.


"What could it be?"


He wasn't sick.


He wasn't lonely.


I was running out of ideas.


"This is so frustrating."


The more I pondered it, the more I had to know. And to know, I had to recover. That meant a strenuous amount of rehab to reverse the effects of entrophy and muscle attrophy. Every exercise. Ever drop of blood, sweat, and tears I put forth. I swear, I put an entire Arlene patented regimen to the test.


"Come on...come on....!"


If I never saw another set of weights, a treadmill, or exercise bike again that would suit me just fine. I know I'm not that lucky but it was good to dream after all that.


I guess I should be taking my own advice, shouldn't I, Toriel? The medicine is bitter to let you know it's working.


By the time I finished my intense regimen, it was already nipping at fall. I'd missed out on a whole year of fun times. Holidays. Birthdays.


I wondered to myself...what was it all for?


I know that everyone else got to reap the benefits of my sacrifices.


It was selfish. I know. But...I was getting tired of "No-Good-Deed-Goes-Unpunished".


I didn't have much left to gift before I used myself up...my mind, my heart...my soul. Wasn't it said that you have to take care of yourself every so often or you won't be able to take care of anyone else?


"The balance...it's just so frustrating." I looked skyward.


"So. You going to let your sister get away with all this, Lady Destiny?"


I sighed and sighed hard.


The day was approaching. I'd finally be able to put an end to all this so I could move on. Maybe I could get back on track to being a best friend.


Now with the Council completely off my case, maybe it was time to retire. First things first...


"...but not necessarily in that order."


I would start off by reporting to Brooke. Which was where all of this was directed from. Yeah. Even our queen was in on it. So was Jaimas. So it didn't surprise me when I saw them both together in the throne room. Things REALLY must've been dire for Kommand to get them in on this; which I knew she did through Garfield.


Considering that Brooke and Jaimas were not known to get along on a personal level, yet they were strong allies on a professional level, I could tell this was a red-letter date.


"Former Commander Volt Arcade. On behalf of the people of Fontraile, government and its people of Miranda City, I offer you this formal private apology."


Brooke had to keep it from the public. Telling your people that a time-space-dimension traveling werewolf representing an organization that enforced and corrected history that his arch-enemy had turned him into a possible bomb or black hole was a sure fire way to start a panic or mass hysteria. But I didn't need or want public recognition.


As far as I was concerned this was a private matter to be swept under the rug and disavowed from the books.


"You really had us worried there." Jaimas assured.


"I had YOU worried? I was about ready to impose permanent self-exile until the timeline reset and kicked me out to the STC Agency Headquarters."


"Those fools in the council again. Another product of their agendas?"


"Directly...yes...indirectly, I'm...responsible."


"How so?"


"The one who orchestrated this was...originally a protegee. But...I saw the danger early on. I saw the signs. The Council overruled my strong recommendation to deny him the Genie's Lamp and Pandora's Box."


"And his psyche cracked like an egg." Jaimas reasoned.


"That's...putting it lightly. If you ever have to wake up every morning and know that you share a quarter of the responsibility of creating time, space, and reality's worst chaos-embracing, anarchist, megalomaniacal, sociapath of a terrorist and destroyer of an exponential number of lives--"


"They ignored you. They pulled the trigger." Jaimas cut in.


"But I filled the chamber with the bullets." I sighed.


"What matters is that we'll all have to be on guard until we can find a way to permanently neutralize this threat."


"Easier said than done. I've never seen anyone pull off so many instances of "success"...so many acts of terror without making plans. He just...does things. Coerces some, bribes others. Creates what Earth Prime calls "Mexican Standoffs". Orchestrates catch-22's. Ruins people just for the simple fact that he can. Because it staves off his boredom."


"Sounds like a dangerous wildcard."


I nodded.


"Well. We'll just have to take it as it comes."


"We won't be ready no matter how much we prepare. Just saying."


"Let him come. We might not be able to kill him but we will make his life Hell."


"His life is already Hell. A Hell that he enjoys. The more people he draws into it, the better he likes it."


"That is his first mistake and his last."


"I had that confidence once. That belief I could stop him so easily."


"What happened?"


"A universe died. An ENTIRE universe. The loss of life was...incalculable. I......let so many people down... It's the largest, darkest shame in my entire existence." I hung my head.


"Jeeze."


Silence.


"I don't think we'll hear from him soon. He wants this to be a loose end. An unresolved issue. He wants us to watch over our shoulders for as long as we can until we settle back into feeling safe and secure. It's not a matter of if...it's a matter of when. It WILL happen. I think we all know it."


I didn't like leaving loose ends. I wanted this story wrapped up and tied with a bow. I wonder if anyone out there can understand how much I hate this much unfinished business. Things left to ferment like wine before you can even attempt to fix them.


Brooke uttered a growl that was...inhuman. Demonic would be a good word to describe it.


"Then for the time being, we will let it."


"Lady Brooke?"


"Our lives...our feeling of safety and security is not negotiable. We will enjoy life. We will have our peace. To live in fear is surrender. That I will not have."


"I think we're on the same page." Jaimas agreed.


"Until then we live. We laugh. We love. But we prepare. We make contingencies. We look to the future when we can and anticipate what we may."


"..."


"Dismissed for now. Go back to your life and be there for Asriel."


I sighed. That wasn't going to be nearly as easy as I once thought. It all hinged on what Asriel had to reveal.


----RECOVERED DATA FRAGMENT FROM THE RESEARCH LOGS OF SPACE TIME CONTINUUM (STC) AGENCY FIELD AGENT AND FOUNDER, DR. VOLT ALESSANDRO ARCADE-----


Sub-Entry 313: "The Graveyard"/"A Visit to Father and Mother":


The Graveyard. That's what I code-named it. The storage depot where I housed all of my failures. But this time I wasn't going there to add something new to it. I was going there to come to terms with old history. I needed to accept that the past was the past. I needed to move on from this.


I know what you're thinking. Going to a place like this isn't healthy. I spent a long time in a deep depression. Filled with frustration, anger, loneliness...pretty much every negative emotion there is. This was just dumping fuel on the fire.


I needed to convince myself none of this was my fault.


Oh, make no mistake. I wasn't completely clean from this whole incident. Even before the name Asriel had come across my eyes, I'd done unorthodox things for a greater good at stake. I'd acted selfishly so that I could bring about an altruistic final result in many a case. I'd stay covert. I lied to many to keep my cover and preserve history as best I could without changing it entirely...tampering with deliberately.


The things I'd done had caused people to get sick, get hurt, get killed, get arrested, get deported or banished, even get excommunicated. I regretted every instance. It weighed me down and this was the most tangible proof of the weight on my shoulder. Every instance I let someone down. Every instance the Council put a red note in my ledger. Hell...every time my friends and family nearly paid the price for the crime of being...flawed...of making mistakes.


"The propane tank..."


I picked up the ruptured cask of metal.


"It wasn't your fault. You couldn't have known."


Elektra could withstand fire but an explosion was a different matter. Fragmentary lacerations, ballistic force trauma, and other medical injuries that scared me out of my skull.


I looked over to the case containing the remains of the Tox Drill that tore through Mitzi's arm.


"Regina did this. Not you."


How would I have coped if she lost an arm.


I looked at the severed arm piece of Sally's old Quadrafecta Suit, the predecessor to the modern Tengu Suit. That mission actually DID cost Sally an arm. But you'd never know after an all-night session in a specialty underground clinic that had the technology to regrow her arm from just a DNA sample. For her, regrowing that arm was the only option. A bionic replacement or going without it would have have ended her career entirely as an OGPX Racer and probably downgraded her agent status in UCIAT. Bionic implants and prosthesis was BANNED from OGPX. There would also be rules and regulations to abide be when she returned to active duty in UCIAT.


"You weren't there. Sally knew the risk. None of us could have foreseen her armor wasn't adequate enough protection. Her arm was cloned back and after a few months of training with the Cyclo-Droid frame, she was rehabilitated enough to resume full active duty."


The Cyclo-Droid frame...I compared it to what Violet had showed me from that anime, "Ride Back". While I couldn't picture Sally as a ballerina who gave up her career I could see the similarities of using a robotic motorcycle with deployable mechanical limbs to do things even a ballerina would have trouble pulling off.


"I can't be everywhere. I can't hand-hold them."


But could I even protect them? If this happened because of me...because of my enemy and his evil reach...what hope did I have to keep Asriel safe for several more years to come if I couldn't keep him out of danger for even one?


This was just collections of failures from Miranda. There was more here. More grim reminders of my screw-ups on S.T.C. Missions.


I looked at the rustic tan jacket with the gash in it. This was the Mobius Bunnie's once. A grim reminder of how misinformation and acting on impulse nearly rewrote her future. A black mark simply logged as ACM-001, Sub-Entry 003.


I looked at an empty one of Naraku's poison insect husks. Yeah. The earful I got from Inuyasha was too good for me.


There were the six broken Power Morphers. The coins were long since destroyed. It didn't matter. The Zordonian Era was long over.


Finally...there were two halves of a crystal heart. The only proof I ever had that Universal City ever existed. It had long since lost its power. But the sad thing was...it had long since lost its meaning to me. Adonis' gambit was so final...so twisted...so horrid that it actually managed to make me lose any sentiment for what the Heart of the Childhood once represented. That's just not right. When your enemy creates a situation that it really IS at least half your fault that things are the way they are...and it bothers you less and less...


This was the most solid proof...the most tangible evidence....the crowning jewel of all my failures. The young woman who trusted me with one half of what was hers. To put it bluntly...she could have been my wife's soul twin in another lifetime. They would never meet, now.


"Never again."


I took a long look around this mound of dust-collecting, aging relics. The polar opposite of the X-Vault. The more I stayed the less I wanted to be here. So. I decided to leave...and lockup. I think despite how bad an idea it was to come here...it was what I needed. It was what was necessary to move on. I'd bury this all under a rock for now. I was genuinely curious about the future, now.


While I had the answers ready and waiting at the coordinates, I still had time before then. After crushing my own ego (because that made perfect sense), I decided to neutralize my mood. Maybe...maybe I could get answers. Maybe I wanted insight. Maybe I was restless. Maybe I wanted some kind of closure.


But...maybe I just wanted to check up on Scott and Callista. I had just visited them...but...maybe it wasn't really them that was on my mind. Was it that obvious?


"...thanks for letting me come over."


"I...guess you're...still wary if you're welcome here. I understand."


"Intuition or--"


"I assure you I'm not reading your mind. Bunnie and I have completely removed all psionic influences on you. You're clean."


"..."


"At ease, Scott. Though...I don't know if I have any right to give orders. I'm...kinda out of a job now and...Miles is the Commander. Has been for a long time now."


"If it's all the same, sir...you'll always be our Commander."


"I appreciate the sentiment."


A bit of silence.


"I think we both know what...or rather who you're really asking about."


"Asriel..."


"It's been so hard on him. I know he's probably told you himself but..."


"No, I get it."


"Keeping those tears inside for so long and letting them out when you weren't around... All of our hearts were breaking."


Silence.


"Well. It's...run its course now. I think it's best to move on and try to rebuild what was lost."


Get to the point, Volt.


"Listen...Asriel has been...secretive about something else. I was hoping maybe you had a clue as to--"


"Oh. That."


So they were in on it, too.


Wait...that sounded wrong. It couldn't be as sinister as it sounded in my mind. That was just reflex; reacting to how my psyche was rewired. I'll have to do better about that.


"It is a secret, yes."


"Which he made you promise not to tell?"


"It's...not as bad as it sounds. In fact you might like it."


"Well there's a sales pitch." I shrugged.


"It's...not that much longer a wait."


"I get it, I get it. I just need to be patient."


"Yeah."


I stayed a bit longer to enjoy the hospitality and mend what was still wounded. In the end it did a lot of good.


It wouldn't be that long a waiting period before the day finally came to learn the truth.


Let's see what you've been hiding, Asriel...


----RECOVERED DATA FRAGMENT FROM THE RESEARCH LOGS OF SPACE TIME CONTINUUM (STC) AGENCY FIELD AGENT AND FOUNDER, DR. VOLT ALESSANDRO ARCADE-----


Sub-Entry 314: "The Secret Finally Revealed/Asriel Finds His Talent":



The day was here. It was time to check out these coordinates.


I headed down to the Gateway Room. Rows of gates, each looking like it had been lifted off the set of Stargate SG-1 or Stargate: Atlantis. Whatever the case was.


I picked the first available gateway and entered the coordinates. Then I engaged the time circuits I had added and put in the date and time.


The display showed a lot of computations before it showed:


Destination: Capcom World. Dimension: RMS-001. Area: Monsteropolis.


"Wait...what?"


Why were Asriel and Bunnie sneaking off to a world in VideoLand's galactic space? Why were we headed to...this world?"


"Time Coordinates accepted."


I checked the year. 20XX. Of course the last two digits would be censored out. That's how a lot of these kind of "game worlds" worked. It made it more...futuristic and mysterious...as things in the 1980's portrayed them.


"This date...it couldn't be..."


One day after...that incident?


I took a deep breath and stepped through...


...and ended up on the other side, my sandals landing on...grass...but not wild grass. This was more like...a field?


I looked around my surroundings. The high-tech, robotic city of Monsteropolis. This world was spoken of in Pit's tales of the N-Division. I'd...inherited a lot of research form this world and its sub-dimensions. As well as a lot of data, hardware, and software.


But where I was standing was a man-made area...yet covered in life. The kind of grassy area you'd see in a...sporting event.


"No. No way..." It was just a feeling. But the longer I stuck with that feeling, the more things were starting to come into focus.


I looked at one end of the field, then the other.


Goal areas...with netting. Soccer. There was a soccer game about to take place here!


And then I saw him.


He looked at me and smiled with big sparkling eyes. And then I noticed his uniform.


And sure enough not far from him were other kids in uniforms...crowded around...


"Major."


Sure enough. Bunnie Rabbotou...who'd have thought of her playing the role of a soccer mom.......no.....not a soccer mom....a soccer COACH.


The big secret suddenly unraveled before my eyes. Suddenly I understood EXACTLY why Asriel and Bunnie kept this secret.


All the clues were there...all the signs...I'd even said a few of them out loud, myself.


Hah...hah......just when I thought I'd said those things offhandedly...you had to go and pay attention to them.


"I wonder if I should regret telling you about my bad experience with sports."


It was true. As a kid, growing up, Arlene tried to get me into physical fitness early. And how did she introduce me to it?


Soccer.


I was terrible at it. I lagged behind. I couldn't figure the game out despite it being so simple. I knew there was strategy and formations behind it. It should have been so simple just kicking a ball around. But it was frustrating and tiring and it always made me stand out as the weakest link. In the end...I gave up on it and begged the others not to sign me up for sports again.


But here Asriel was. Part of a team. I didn't even know if he was any good.


Asriel headed over to me.


"Well um...surprise!" He spread his arms out.


"So. This was the big secret. This was the real reason you were avoiding me."


"Well...the other reason, yes. I know you don't like sports much and....I was kinda afraid of what you'd say."


"Azzy, I'm your best friend. At least...I hope I still am. I'll support anything you're interested in. Even if I'm not any good at it, myself."


"Of course you still are. Am I still yours?"


"You never stopped being my best friend. I think...this experience was...just a a test. And...well...I think it will help us grow closer."


I had a seat in the bleachers, down in front. Asriel joined me...and handed me a slice of Butterscotch-Cinnamon Pie. I soon discovered he baked it himself after Mitzi and Nermal taught him how. Heh. Entry 314...as in 3.1415. A pie for a pi. How fitting.


"Asriel...I have to confess. I've...always felt a deep guilt. I don't know why it is but..." I thought for a moment. "Since we met...we've never fought. We've never argued. We've never had a real disagreement. Our friendship has been perfect."


"Yeah, it has."


"But...that's...not how life is supposed to work. It's been too good to be true. I feel...I've gotten off easy for...choices I've made. You've been merciful. I feel like I should be punished for things I've said...or done...like something has to balance it out. The times I've asked if you resented me or had any problems or issues with me...you've told me no. That's...that's better than I deserve."


I was still in the mindset Omega Flowey had put me in. I felt that through Flowey, Asriel could take out his frustrations and grief and overall negativity out on me. I tampered with the timeline; as much as I tried not to make a mess of it. I took away his former best friend and sibling. I lied and manipulated to earn friendships. I was trash. I just couldn't leave well enough alone.


I still felt like a fraud for just doing my job but...doing it with my own spin on things. Things no other agent of STC would even bother attempting. Some of them would sooner step on a Froggit and squash it until it turned to dust just because the mission said to do so...without even an ounce of remorse. Just puppets of the Council. Was it so wrong to save my soul for the sake of trying to preseve what little decency there was in the InfinityVerse at times?


I kept all that secret from him.


"Volt...life isn't fair. I get that now. But...remember why you rescued me. You thought I deserved better than to die alone. Isn't it only right that you deserve happiness in exchange for a good deed?"


"Most of the time...good deeds don't go unpunished. It's not right but Lady Destiny and Madam Fate are fickle. Even with one another. We get dealt the cards that they agree upon and either prosper...or suffer."


"Volt....please don't overthink this."


It looked like the game was about to get underway.


"Well, you better get going. I don't mean to hold you up..."


That's when I noticed he was barefoot.


"Azzy, I think you better hurry up and get your shoes on."


"Actually...there might be a little twist to this game."


Huh? You're not actually going out there in bare feet--" And then I noticed the rest of the kids were out in bare feet. Either they were going to be playing by third world country standards or the funding of this soccer program was really, really scarce.


"I'm ready, sensei!" That's when I noticed the Shodouphone out and Bunnie scripting runes on each of the player's foreheads, chests, knees, legs, and feet.


"What the...?"


I then noticed each of them glowing with a bright neon green aura.


As I watched the other team...sure enough, Bunnette Von Rabbotte was the other coach and she was using the same runes on her team but with neon purple auras.


"Check it out!" Asriel walked over to one of the metal posts of the outer fencing and give it a swift kick. Then a headbutt. The metal reverberation was...almost otherworldly.


"Didn't feel a thing. Not even a scratch. It's like a Mojikara version of Aunt Sally's Tengu Suit!"


Okay...martial arts and soccer. This I had to see.


It wasn't that much longer before the game would start. But Bunnie felt inclined to pull me aside, away from the kids. Definitely out of their sight and hearing range.


"So."


"So."


"I guess you understand now."


"I do."


"It took...a lot of mental preparation."


"I wonder. How much of your soul is left after all that?"


"Blunt...but a fair observation. You remember well...what I said about killing a part of your soul when you lie."


"Indeed I do. Having said that..." I started to turn away. Then without warning I decked Bunnie hard, sending her to the ground.


"!!!"


I waited for her to look up at me before I extended a hand.


"Even?" She asked.


"Even." I replied as she accepted my hand and let me help her up.


"Well done, Commander. You caught me off guard."


"I have have a mind to reprimand and discipline you for gross insubordination and anything else I can come up with. However since I'm not active UCIAT leader, I guess you get a free pass but a sore jaw. I'm glad you took your punishment well instead of calling me horrible for striking a woman."


"Commander? I would have been INSULTED if you hadn't. Real equality doesn't make excuses even when it comes to an act of violence."


"Nothing that can't be fixed with an apology and a first aid kit."


"Let me wear my wounds and scars with pride. That is how a warrior should be."


"Okay. But if you pull another stunt like this again, I'm aiming for the eyes next time."


"Telegraphing a move this far in advance? A very naive and un-strategic choice, Commander. You shouldn't be so callous in announcing that. I might actually hit back next time."


"I'll take my chances. Now come on. You have a game to coach. And your team has to whip your sister's team for bragging rights, right?"


"Listen to you get all competitive."


"Bunnie Rabbotou with sass. The world is coming to an end."


"No. Just a chapter in the book of life."


"That's the Major I know."


"The decisions you make and the actions that follow are a reflection of who you really are. You cannot hide from who you've become."


"That's beautiful. Who said that?"


"A father. Of a samurai."


"You?"


"No. In a way...I wish I could have been him."


What she said...made me think. Was that her desire? To get back? Back to the past? Nah. I was overthinking this. But just to be safe I was going to avoid grossly large, red-haired men wearing kilts and carrying bagpipes.


And so the game was on.


----RECOVERED DATA FRAGMENT FROM THE RESEARCH LOGS OF SPACE TIME CONTINUUM (STC) AGENCY FIELD AGENT AND FOUNDER, DR. VOLT ALESSANDRO ARCADE-----


Sub-Entry 315: "Game On":



I watched in amazement as the game started. By now I recognized the updated Rabbotou Logo on their uniforms with the words, in bold, "Hope Never Walks Alone" encircling it; one half in Common (English) and the other half in Jangese.


Both teams started out in 2-3-2 formation. Asriel took center of the midfield line. His team looked ready. Their opponents looked formidable. I Had a lot of confidence in my best friend, but I could tell it wasn't going to be an easy victory. There was more that Bunnie and I had to discuss, but right now she needed her full concentration. As did Asriel.


I found my way to the bleachers where the entire UCIAT and a few others from Miranda City had come out to support our goat prince...of soccer. Hmm...I wonder. If he had chosen tennis as his sport would that make him our goat prince of t......nah. I'm not about to channel another reference.


The whistle blew and Asriel got in the first kick of the game. And wow, what a kick! I didn't know if it was his own abilities or the runes in his feet that were giving it the extra oomph, but seeing it fly like that? There was no way that was your average soccer kick.


He quickly passed it to his team mates at the forward line and I quickly leared that he wasn't the only one showcasing special abilities. One of them I could see the distortions of a swirling tornado vortex. The other, I could make out flower petals surrounding her. Was Bunnie already teaching them jutus? Were they using hybrid abilities?


Bunnette's team was just as prepared for her half-sister's students and using similar powers and martial arts moves.


That slide tackle just now was familar.


"Whoah!"


"I'm on, it Asriel!" A shoulder charge with no penalties? I wasn't sure how the rules were modified but no whistle-blow meant it was all good. As the ball threated to cross the half-field, I wasn't prepared for the midfield left to suddenly sommersault kick.


And soon Asriel had the ball and pressed downfield.


"This kind of thing happen often?"


"I suppose now would be the time to tell you this is a championship game, Commander. This is for all the marbles."


"...that's what the big surprise was. Since April began you've been coaching this team for an entire season. Asriel's big secret was that he was trying to keep me from finding out about it so that I could see his big final game of the season."


"Correct."


"You went through a lot of trouble keeping something so trivial under wraps when the whole city was in danger from the pico-machine virus?"


"It was not trivial. This was the world to him. It was a gift for you. It was to be given with love and respect."


"Well you both got your priorities in order..."


"Don't be salty, Commander."


"How's the jaw again?"


"..."


"Don't be salty, my second in command."


"Watch the game."


I smirked as the forward were having difficulty getting past the rear guard. That was when they tried something unconventional.


"Go for it, Azzy!"


I watched as he did a handstand vaulting kick, somehow sending the ball straight up as he shot up like a missile. That was when I saw Asriel sail through the air. His solar aura was suddenly so strong, like he had been charging up...


"Secret Dreemurr technique: TAIYOU-DAMA!"


"Did he just--"


In that moment Asriel launched into an air hurricane kick. As soon as the ball was level with his kick...


* KA-WHUMPH *


The ball burst into flames as it soared toward the goal. It was like a miniature sun as it scorched past the the rear guards and past the goal keeper. It impacted the net, spinning for a few seconds, straining the martial science runes covering it before the flames went out and it dropped.


"Goal! Goal! GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL!!!"


I recognized that voice over the loudspeakers.


I turned and sure enough there was Violet at the commentator's table. Okay. How many of you guys were in on this?


Asriel's first point of the game certainly set the stage, but the opposing team wasn't about to let that stand.


"Satoshi." Bunnette Von Rabbotte said plainly.


"Hai!" The boy responded.


With the ball now in the other team's possession.


"Be careful. We don't know what special ability--" Asriel started before...


WHOOOSH!


"Ooof!" Asriel and the forwards came crashing down once the tornado died down.


"...wind. It's wind." He wrinkled his snoot. "Guess we're not the only one with an air-bender."


"I got it!" Our team's defense attempted to intercept. One with leaves, the other with water spheres. You know...there was something familiar about this...something I'd read about in the archives from the N-Division days.


"Oh no you don't!"


The slide tackle came out of nowhere but the orangish crescent in front of it...


"That's...!" I heard Pit say.


"Nice one, Bruce!"


"Is he allowed to wear shades on the soccer field?" I scratched my head. "What kid wears his hair in a pompadour?"


And back the ball went to the other side of the field where the other team's defense were waiting.


One coughed up a dust cloud out of no where, obscuring vision.


A commotion within the cloud and a moment later the soccer ball soared out, wrapped in ice.


"Ice shot! Look out!"


Asriel dove to the side as the ball again slingshot in the opposite direction before being nabbed by the opposing team's forward.


Bunnette nodded.


With that Satoshi drew back and the kick connected... ...but no one saw the path the ball took because it vanished without a trace.


* BAMF *


That's when I saw it hit the back of the net out of nowhere. No. There was a dilation...like a miniature quantum singularity.


"A warp shot?"


"This guy's going to be hard to beat." Asriel pushed himself up from where he landed.


Bunnie lowered an eyebrow.


"A fair move." She conceded.


Bunnette smirked briefly in response. From there on out, back and forth the score see-sawed. There was some shoulder-charges, some slide-tackles, some mixed martial arts "spars". Until finally...


"Lightning shot!"


"Yeah!" Asriel shared a high five with his team mate after the goal was made.


That was when the whistle went up.


Half time.


----RECOVERED DATA FRAGMENT FROM THE RESEARCH LOGS OF SPACE TIME CONTINUUM (STC) AGENCY FIELD AGENT AND FOUNDER, DR. VOLT ALESSANDRO ARCADE-----


Sub-Entry 316: "Half Time/Catching Up":



A tie game. Bunnie and her half-sister had coached some pretty formidable teams. This was most certainly a championship game.


"Well done all of you." Bunnie assured as she checked the runes on all of her players.


"Enjoy a period of rest. Second half starts up in fifteen minutes, do not be late."


I decided to check on them. Hopefully I wouldn't be ushered back to my seat too soon.


"Are you happy? Are you impressed? This game is dedicated to you, best friend!"


"Azzy..." Was I actually getting teary-eyed? "You've outdone yourself. You're the best."


We hugged each other longingly.


At the same time.


"Soul twin."


"Soul twin."


"You look well."


"It has not been that long since we were last together."


"Perhaps it merely...feels that way."


"Sister. Is your Commander going to be okay?"


"He is strong. He is determined. He will go on. It will all seem like a bad memory sooner or later."


"Well then. I see you've honed your team very well."


"Indeed I have. I believe we have a strong chance to win this."


"Do not be hasty. I too have trained an excellent team. They will prove to be your equals. We might be the ones savoring victory before this day is done."


Bunnie smirked in response.


"I look forward to the challenge." Both sisters shared a respectful bow.


And...


Pit looked longingly at the world around him.


"It...hasn't changed much." He said to himself.


That's when he felt the hand on his shoulder.


"You haven't changed at all."


Pit slowly turned.


Blue eyes. Raven black hair. That shirt. Those shorts. And those flaring-ly large, vaguely bell-shaped legs.


"It...can't be...!"


"It's been a long time, partner!"


"Rock!" Pit embraced the robot kid.


"I missed you, Pit."


"You...you haven't changed, either."


A pleasant smile and rubbing of the back of his head. Our little angel was as humble as ever. And it seemed like his ex-partner, Rock Light AKA Mega Man was just as much so.


"But...the Expiration Date law...I thought--"


"Yeah...I thought so, to but...I guess my world is always going to need Mega Man. I have so many stories to tell."


Rock had a seat.


"Do you...miss the others? Simon? Samus? Link? The Mario Brothers?" A momentary pause. "Kevin? Duke? Princess Lana? Game Boy?"


"More than you know. You?"


"More than you know."


Laughter.


"Time marches on...even if we seem to be stuck in the same place."


"You're a celestial so...you won't age for many many generations."


"And you're a machine so...with general maintenance you could exist forever."


"Well...it's a nice thought but...nothing ever lasts forever. Not even the two of us."


"Well...there is one thing."


"There is?"


"Our friendship."


"That's a good thought, Pit."


I watched with admiration. Scott and Callista were in the stands. They waved to us. I saw other members of the UCIAT there. It was not reassuring how many people were in on this but me.


I noticed the other team members clamoring for Asriel to join them for socializing and re-hydrating.


"Looks like you got this, best friend. Go on. Your team mates need you."


"One more for the road?" Azzy looked up.


"Okay." I smiled. Then I booped the snoot.


"Baaaaaah!" He bleeted happily.


"Oh you. Don't keep your friends waiting."


Wow. Popular, aren't you? As long as one cinnamon roll gets to enjoy popularity. I'm sure the Great Papyrus would be happy for you if the both of you had ever gotten a chance to meet.


That was when Bunnie finished conversing with her sister then headed over to meet me. We still had a lot to talk about.


"I don't know how Rotor talked me into this..." Skeeter panted after coming off the field from the goal post. Yup. He was the goalkeeper on Azzy's team.


"Heh." I turned my attention back to Bunnie.


----RECOVERED DATA FRAGMENT FROM THE RESEARCH LOGS OF SPACE TIME CONTINUUM (STC) AGENCY FIELD AGENT AND FOUNDER, DR. VOLT ALESSANDRO ARCADE-----


Sub-Entry 317: "Further Explanations/Remembering Them All":



"...okay, Azzy's occupied with his team mates. We got a moment or two to talk about...the things we can't let him overhear."


"First...let me offer my condolences, Commander. They were your friends."


"In a way...they could have been my family, too. I mean...nothing could...REALLY replace you guys, but--"


"I know. We pushed you into their arms, knowing you'd be safest under their care. Volt...there's enough room in your life for both our worlds. For ALL of the worlds you're part of. For all of us to be one big family some day. You're continuously expanding our circle and...well..."


"You were looking forward to meeting them."


"All of who knew about the Underground were looking forward to it."


I sighed and released the Butterscotch-Cinnamon pie from storage. I had already eaten the pie that Azzy had shared. But this meant something else. This was all I had to remember her.


"Toriel's?"


"Toriel's."


"The size of the pie...it intimidates me."


I facepalmed. "Bunnie. Really."


"...it does." She shrugged. Then she turned serious. "We cannot let Asriel know about this...we'll...have to eat it ourselves. Some other time."


Enjoying it now would be redundant, especially since I had already had the pie that Asriel had baked. We'd enjoy it late night some time, some where, after Asriel's bed time.


I put it back into storage then released the jigsaw puzzle.


"A gift from Papyrus?"


"Indeed. He...wanted to give me his scarf but......I think that would have made things worse with Sans."


I put it back in storage then released the container of Golden Flower Tea.


"Undyne?"


"She gave me some for the road. I thought maybe you'd like to try it." I handed it to Bunnie.


"Hmm." She sipped. "It is good. Rather good."


When I settled my debts with Muffet, I made sure to buy extra.


"Spider donut?"


"A bit unhealthy...but sure." We each had one. "Let's not discuss what they might be made of."


"It would not matter. If it is true, it may be a rite of passage for them when they pass on."


"Can we not discuss this?" I shook my head. "That reminds me. I got a few Steaks in the Shape of Mettaton's Face for Jon as well as a couple Glamburgers. I could tell him what they're made of and he'd still eat them."


I looked on. "By the way, coach...are we ALLOWED to take food with us to the game?"


Bunnie shrugged.


I produced one of the bones I had saved from my battle with Sans. "If only he hadn't been so stubborn."


Bunnie decided not to pry.


That left the Temmie armor.


"A piece for your X-Vault?"


"Yeah."


An awkward silence.


The last thing I released was a test tube. In it...white dust.


"...Commander..."


It was morbid. It was macabre. And...it was heartbreaking. I think it was as messed up as Chara-Wraith covering Bunnie with Toriel's dust. Now here I was with the remains of Asgore.


"How messed up is this, Bunnie? His soul is gone. This dust is all that remains. You can't bring a Monster back with just a sample of their dust. Not with science or magic."


I wished I would have found a crown or a piece of his armor Even his trident would have been a better thing to bring back than...this. Each of these items was a pledge to me...to never let myself forget them. To always keep them in my heart. But that wasn't what was bugging me.


So. Let's review. A previous Asriel's dust had been in my central nervous system. Toriel's dust had been scattered as blinding powder during Chara-Wraith's attack on Miranda. And now I had Asgore's dust. The dust of the entire Dreemurr family had found its way to Miranda. But did it have any meaning if each iteration was dead? If their souls were gone? They'd technically made it to the surface but they'd never know.


Gods, I was doing a lot of rambling.


"Maybe...they should have a proper burial."


"Bunnie. A monster's dust is spread upon their favorite thing when they die."


"I see."


"Bunnie..."


"Admittedly...you do have issues with this but...we'll help you work through them."


I sighed.


"Gaster...said something that's really shaken me. He implied...maybe I shouldn't have taken any action. Maybe I should have left Asriel to..."


"You know very well you made the right choice."


"If I had done that...I'd be no better than anyone in the Council. I know I can't save everyone but. Who am I to say I can't save anyone if I'm not willing to save anyone? I had to try. It's what Dad...Mom...Mentor...Sarge...Uncle Ed would have wanted."


"Volt--"


"But most of all it was what I wanted."


"...well then. I suppose nothing more needs to be said."


"You don't really think that's the case, do you?"


"Volt. If you had left him there...supposing the timeline didn't come to an end. Supposing you had left Asriel in the void. Violet's and Nikita's tests all pointed to him being altered by his time in the void. He didn't...lose cohesion like Dr. Gaster.


But...could you have really been sure he'd continue to exist? If his magic was leaking out that fast once he left the void...what would have sustained him? Supposing it wasn't a Genocide Timeline; what if it had been neutral or pacifist? He wouldn't have made it to reincarnation. A monster is made of magic and love...you know which kind, right?"


"Yes."


"So...wouldn't the evidence suggest he'd cease to exist? His body would just...dissipate, dust and all? And without a body, his soul wouldn't last but a moment or two. It would break and shatter and he'd be swept away. A different Asriel would take his place like it did in UTPR-3224."


Bunnie might not have been a scientist but she was very analytical. As a ninja, a ronin, and many other warrior forms that her heritage was rich with...she had quite a mind.


"One did. That Asriel became Flowey. The whole cycle started again." I shoved my hands in my pockets and sighed. "Proof that I can't save everyone."


"But you saved one. This Asriel was a once in a lifetime miracle and you saved him. He's alive; he exists because of you. That's a better chance than Madam Fate was ever gonig to give him. That's your legacy. That's your greatest triumph. You changed a doomed soul's fate into destiny. That's why Lady Destiny chose you as her white knight. That is why you'll prevail against Madam Fate's black knight......your nemesis, Dr. Adonis."


"Right again, Bunnie. Right again."


"So. Disregard Gaster's words. You've paid the price. This is here. This is now."


I nodded.


"Now...we just have a present and a future to focus on." Speaking of which...


----RECOVERED DATA FRAGMENT FROM THE RESEARCH LOGS OF SPACE TIME CONTINUUM (STC) AGENCY FIELD AGENT AND FOUNDER, DR. VOLT ALESSANDRO ARCADE-----


Sub-Entry 318: "The Hornet's Nest Was Kicked Long Ago. We Wait for the Coming Swarm":



"...I suppose we have a lot of loose ends to tie up."


"We do...but not not now." I looked on.


"When Adonis finds out the plan didn't--"


"He knows the plan didn't work out. It wasn't his plan. It was never his plan. He just delegated it to anyone who was willing to serve him. He just sets things in motion and lets the chaos write itself. It all just worked out like he knew it would. By not planning things himself, he's a true harbinger of chaos. He completely isolates himself from order while his followers fancy themselves the brains...until their plans either fall apart or Adonis gets bored and disposes of them on a whim."


"...what a twisted individual."


"Alloicious once said that what he wants from the Council is accountability. I don't know if he still wants that anymore as his mind has eroded so much. When I think about it, it feels like the villain's plot to Fate of the Furious. He does like ripping off super-villain plots and stitching together to give himself an identity. Like that Supercomputer, "Dave" that tried to reveal the true identity of that vigilante in Gotham City..."


"Greater sins committed in order to punish the lesser sins?"


"Makes very little sense, I know. Like shattering thousands of GP worth of fine crystal and glass works with a sledgehammer because a fly walked across a single glass. Don't get me wrong, the Councils' done atrocious things."


"It's become quite a mess since your life's work got out of hand."


"I don't know if I'll ever be able to clean up my mess...make up for my sins."


"One step at a time, Commander."


"You are right. The hornet's nest has been kicked. Just not as recently as you think."


"Hmm?"


"I look back...and think about how Emmett and I took this...time technology to the next level. I think back to everything I dug up on the research of Videoland's warp zones. And then I ponder all of the dimensional research that has ever crossed my desk. We unleashed the technology. We tried to establish a foundation to use it responsibly and devote it to the good of all intelligent life but..."


"Volt."


"Power just ends up entrancing. They all let it go to their heads...then stopped listening to me when I warned them. When they got tired of me, the sought a successor they could use as a puppet yes man. When Adonis betrayed us all, they punished me and demoted me down to this for their mistakes. No matter how you slice it--"


"Was it not said that one should not unnecessarily accept the blame for something that was no fault of one's own?"


"...not...in that exact context...but......yes." I rubbed my eyelids.


"Bunnie...where do I even begin with what could come back to haunt us because of this?"


"Hmm."


"The Followers of Chaopolis won't let this slide. But...they're not going to go in for the kill with things as they are. We're too on guard. We'd be expecting it."


"But now we'll be able to focus on it full-time. Your focus won't be divided between the Underground and Miranda City."


"When you put it like that..." I grimaced.


"I apologize. Sore spot."


"No. I can't ignore the reality. The fact that it was divided between two worlds left a vulnerability."


"There is hope. If your theory is correct..."


I knew where she was going with this.


"Then another unstable timeline will reconstitute from the reset, eventually."


"Or maybe not at all."


"Commander. What do we say about hope?"


I put my knuckles to my hips.


"Do you keep track of how many times you're right?"


"Of course not. That would be gloating."


I decided to go over what we knew.


"So. Let's review. This began before my mission even started. Adonis' stooge put the pico-drive virus in me. I put my previous missions on hold for reassignment to the UTPR times. I spend an inordinate amount of time researching countless stable timelines in order to be completely briefed on what I'll be studying.


During one of them, my tech support dropped me in an unstable timeline and the dust and blood messed subconsciously linked me to Asriel before I even really met him.

After a few more runs they have me investigate UTPR-3219 where things went...differently. One hundred years later I save Asriel from that timeline before it dies and we raise him here. Little did I know Chara-Wraith has used Chara's soul to break into the new timeline, 3224 where it manipulated her into playing that twisted game.


Little did I know Adonis set that up...I don't know what his connection to the Wraith was, but he played me behind my back."


I thought back...


~~~~~~~


"Undyne? Yeah, she's a local hero around here. Through grit and determination alone, she fought her way to the top of the Royal Guard. Actually, she just came through here asking about someone who looked just like you... I'd watch your back, kid. And buy some items... It might just save your hide! Wa ha ha!"


Kid? He needs those glasses more than Frisk does. And for that matter he was a little late on--


I stopped short.


Wait a minute. Asked about someone who looked like me? Undyne came through here AHEAD of me? How did she pull that off? Was she really that fast out of her armor? I suppose if she factored strength into the equation she could make jumps like the Incredible Hulk and clear some pretty sizeable distance. But why would she be looking for me? Did she have a lead on Frisk?


~~~~~


I'd overlooked it. The clues were all there.


Someone who looked like me...or rather was IMPERSONATING me. It wouldn't be the first time Adonis had used my image just to tarnish it.


"I put the kabosh on the Wraith's plan and take Chara out of the equation. That pushes up the timeline but it still goes according to Judas' plan which suits Adonis fine. The tests awaken the pico-drive virus and it starts unpacking over the time it takes us all to move on and get into our comfortable medium.


Somehow he's interacted with Flowey. Somehow he's had a brush with Undyne. Somehow he made a deal with the Wraith for some purpose; likely to amuse their agenda while getting what he wanted. Somehow he sabotaged this whole thing."


"But it has not run its course."


"No. This is just his way of reminding me I can't escape him. Whatever happens next will be him saying "hello". Then toying with us. Then...who knows what. Chaos isn't something you predict."


"We'll just have to wait for the coming storm."


"Considering the size of the hornet's nest, we should be prepared for the coming swarm."


"Humorous."


"Well...you better get ready. Time's almost up and both teams look ready to take the field again."


"Indeed." Bunnie headed back and called the team together and quickly relayed the strategy and the formation. It seemed Bunnette was going with a Sweeper formation. Bunnie with a 3-1-3 formation.


----RECOVERED DATA FRAGMENT FROM THE RESEARCH LOGS OF SPACE TIME CONTINUUM (STC) AGENCY FIELD AGENT AND FOUNDER, DR. VOLT ALESSANDRO ARCADE-----


"Sub-Entry 319: "Champions":



The second half launched with the switching of the goal posts.


"Cover me, Asriel. I have an idea."


"You got it!" Asriel pulled multiple somersaults and flips across the field while his team mates got into position!


* CHING *


I knew that sound. But it couldn't be!


But sure enough one of Asriel's team mates was frozen in time while star-like sparkles drifted around her.


Now I was sure these abilities seemed familiar.


"Darnit!"


"Don't worry!" The hybrid dove sailed through the air like a torpedo, knocking the ball out of the path with a headbutt.


"Nice glide!" Asriel gave props as his feathered team mate pulled a handstand flip onto her feet and started running as the ball was deflected by one of the human players on Azzy's team sending it back to Asriel.


"Comin' your way!" Azzy alternated the ball back and forth with knee kicks. With a spin and a twist he jumped and axe-kicked the ball at a downward angle toward the other forward wing.


"Time to double up!"


"Do it, Jason!"


WIth a well place kick, the ball...suddenly split into two, each taking criss-crossing sine-wave paths toward the goal.


"What the...!"


"GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL!"


"Nice Gemini Ball!"


"Thanks!"


Bunnette raised an eyebrow.


"Well played."


Bunnie briefly smirked.


Honestly, I was invested. All the pain and regret I had as a kid playing soccer and failing at it washed away. Asriel was having fun. He was making friends. He was showing real promise as a team player and a leader. This was it. This was the sign that Asriel had reached the end of his long road to recovery. He had been through a nightmare and back.


It wasn't the ending I was hoping for...but it was an ending. I could live with this. If Lady Destiny found a way to make that Ultimate Happy Ending come true, then I'd welcome it with open arms.


It finally came down to Asriel making the last shot...


"Come on, little goat. Once I block this, we'll take this in the shootout."


"Don't count on it!"


"Intercept him, Satoshi!"


Asriel heard the taunt in Jangese.


"Uh-oh..."


The dark matter dilation appeared in the path of the ball.


"Not this time!"


Asriel cupped his hands together and quickly amassed a Solar Buster--like a make-shifted, solar version of Chaos Buster in plasma ball form. Not like the lasers and death beam of AGOHD; obviously since he wasn't hefting the weird fountain-pen shaped rainbow-filled hypodermic framework. Yet...something about it had that weird familiarity about it. Is this what his powers had evolved to? Would I see...other attacks of Ascended Asriel in new forms?


"Violet owes me GP!"


Oh no...


And then he quite literally launched it like a hadouken, sending it into the black hole portal. With that, the solar energy and the dark matter somehow canceled each other out. I'm sure I thought deeper into it, I'd question how that even worked. I'm sure I'd come up with a reason how it could be a violation of the laws of physics. But...I let it slide and gave my scientist's mind a rest. It worked. That's all I needed to know.


"Nani...!......iie!!!" Satoshi wasn't able to get another portal up in time.


Asriel launched the ball up then super-jumped, passing the ball on the way up.


With a grin, he launched into a spinning drill kick, smashing both feet into the ball.


"Ultimate Secret Dreemurr Technique: TORNADO DRILL TAIYOU-DAMA!"


And with that the spinning solar fireball burned downward into an arc.


"...!!!" With that the goalkeeper dropped to the ground and covered his head. "I don't want to play anymore!"


The ball hit the net...and the energy kept pushing until the whole goal post tipped backwards.


"GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL!!!"


With that the clock had run out and the cheers went up.


"Hmm." Bunnette crossed her arms and looked dour.


"Hmm." Bunnie kept blank as a refrigerator.


WIth that sisters and rivals shared a formal bow.


Both teams headed to the field and lined up and exchanged formal bows before going their separate ways.


You know...it occurs to me that people in my circle did not participate in normal sports. But that wasn't my concern now. What was my concern was...


"Congratulations Team Rabbotou, your new Monsteropolis Ninja Soccer champions!" Violet's voice boomed over the P.A.


"And to present the championship trophy, all the way from Technopolis in Kaeleron on planet VGM-1996...OGPX circuit champions, Team Acorn!"


Well. Our planet did have a name but...for all practical purposes, in the galactic numbering system we were VGM-1996.


Sally made her appearance with Willie and Honey.


"Congratulations, all of you. You showed sportsmanship, honor, teamwork, discipline, and most of all true determination."


"Thank you!"


Asriel accepted the rather impressive trophy. He was tempted to call her "Aunt Sally" for a moment but decided to keep it on the downlow. Azzy didn't need a lame claim to fame with his friends by trying to impress them that he was practically family to someone famous. He was kinda famous enough. That was good enough for him.


Asriel let Bunnie take the trophy off his hands so his teammates could celebrate. I'd see it happen in a lot of works of fiction; TV shows, movies, cartoons and the like...but at that moment...?


"Hip-hip...!" "HOORAAAAAY!"


Seeing them all toss Asriel up into the air and catch up repeatedy? It was like out of a fairytale or something.


He had gone from lonely Prince...to orphaned goat child...to hero...to extraordinary kid.


I don't know. Was I overselling it? He just seemed...like he had really grown into someone far greater than what he started with.


"Volt! We did it! We did it!" Hahahahahaahah! We did iiiiit! Yaaaaay!"


I smiled. I raised my arm and gave a thumbs-up.


"Yeah. You did it. You all really did it."


----RECOVERED DATA FRAGMENT FROM THE RESEARCH LOGS OF SPACE TIME CONTINUUM (STC) AGENCY FIELD AGENT AND FOUNDER, DR. VOLT ALESSANDRO ARCADE-----


Sub-Entry 320: "Hope Never Walks Alone":



Afterword...


"Well. Was the surprise worth it?"


"It sure was. It was more than worth it."


Maybe I was being generous but I felt like it needed to be more than worth it. Some real scum had messed with our lives and taken away time from all of us. As an immortal, it was negligible.


For everyone else? That was time they were never going to get back. Adonis had stolen that from Asriel...from Bunnie...from Violet...from Lisa and the kids...from everyone I cared about. I swore that one day we'd settle the score. But not this day.


"So...what now, sensei?" Asriel accessed his other clothes from his ITEM system and slipped his sandals back on, once Bunnie had finished dispelling the last of the runes.


"You have many more belts to earn, Asriel-san."


"And we haven't even scratched the surface of all the awesome stuff I have to show you going well back into the 70's. Plus there's hundreds of new memes and games I gotta walk you through."


"Dammit, Violet." I shook my head.


"I guess I better prepare myself for it all." Asriel said with an anime sweat drop.


He looked to me.


"Volt...do...do you think I'll ever start growing again? I mean...I've been...the same for 101 years now..."


"Asriel...you've done so much growing up in here..." I said as I pounded my chest. "...it wouldn't matter if you stayed that size for the rest of your life."


"It would matter to me. It wouldn't be natural, right?"


"Well...I guess you have a point."


"What if...being part of a surrogate family...being adopted by Scott and Callista isn't enough?"


"We just gotta have hope, Asriel."


"Yeah...I guess so."


"Besides. You shouldn't be in such a hurry to grow up. Not everyone who does so turns out as great as Bunnie."


"Commander. Stop. What you're saying is...embarrassing."


"What was it you said about humility, Bunnie?"


"Touche. Always one to turn quotes around upon who said them, aren't you?"


"Funny how it works, huh?"


"So...do you think we'll get to go on vacation again next year? We kinda missed out this year."


"We'll strive to make it happen. Maybe back to Neo Arcadia City again?"


"Maybe, yeah!"


"Or perhaps we can visit Jang." Bunnie offered.


"You totally have to see Little Tokyo. I can't wait for you to meet Lucille."


"The tea-shop owner who wears missiles in her hair?" I looked dubious.


"MIssiles? In her HAIR?"


"It's...complicated."


"We could order pizza from you-know-who while we're in my home."


"Oh yeah. Those samurai you hired who work at a pizzaria as a day job but are also superheroes."


The AU counterparts of the Samurai Pizza Cats. Yeah. Why not? But I was coming along to keep the insanity to a minimum and help keep Al Dente of Vi's back.


"Well, one thing's for sure. I've got a lot more free time to spare."


"Volt? I'm...sorry all this cost you your job...that you can't time travel anymore."


"It's okay, Asriel. It wasn't either of our faults. It just...well...happened."


I could have mentioned how much the Council were total d--(FLOWEY CACKLE)-s about it. That it was their fault I was a fugitive. But...y'know. I was as done with them as they were with me. What goes around comes around. Just let them try to keep the operation going without me.


"Well...maybe I can't travel through time as much anymore...I still have the Deloreon, the Time Train, the Phone Booth and the Epoch... but...we can still do some planet-hopping and visit old stomping grounds. Right under the Council's noses, even. See how much they've changed."


"Sounds like an adventure."


"It probably will be." I agreed with Asriel as I looked skyward.


"Oh! I almost forgot..."


I produced the bracer.


"It's...no longer connected to A.E.O.N. for some reason...neither is mine...plus the ID link to STC Headquarters and the council itself is deactivated. They can't track or monitor ous. And...most of the functions seem to be disabled. I think the Spectre function still works. But......you still have the Unitrix Core and...well...it still tells time."


Asriel kinda hesitated. He gave me a look like he didn't think he was worthy of it.


I gave him a patient smile.


A moment of hesitation later...


"Thank you."


Asriel accepted it and fit it back on his arm where it auto-fit.


"I'll...try to be worthy of it again. Somehow."


I patted his head gently.


Neither of us wanted to address the fact that this meant saying goodbye to Kommand.


Another moment of silence.


"So. I guess I'm going to be a full-time electronics service and supply owner and proprietor."


"Actually..." Bunnie started.


"Miles had kind of a request." Violet cut in.


"Really, now." I arched an eyebrow.


"He still feels very inexperienced so...he proposed that maybe we need a co-commander."


"You're asking me to share leadership with Miles?"


"Well...yes."


"It's one way we could still keep calling you Commander." Violet smirked.


"It might be worth looking into. It's better than waiting around behind a cash register for someone to to come to me asking if they still make 75 ohm to 300 ohm transformer adapters."


"What's...that for?" Asriel asked.


"..."


"Goat Son, you have a loooot to learn about how we gamers did things old school." Vi said with a mischievous wink.


"Oh brother." I shook my head. But she had a point.


"You know...it may be just what I need." I smiled.


The future was ours to hold. Ours to protect. Ours to live. Let Adonis have the victory he cheated and lied and betrayed to get. I had my victory right here--getting my friends and family back. Getting my head back on straight. Appreciating what I had when I lost it.


It was time to move on and let the plan go dormant...or maybe just end there. Who can say. It was time to prove to myself I was ready to let this go. Let all of this go. I was free. Asriel was free. We were all free to do as we may.


As a final act, I loosened my necktie, untied it and pulled it off. With that I held it up and let go; letting the wind carry it away.


I walked toward the sunset. Only moments later Asriel caught up with me. It was nice that I wouldn't have to walk back to the gateway home alone.


Bunnie and Violet would follow behind me.


Scott and Callista behind them. The rest of the Ultra Crew Institute in their company.


In what had been ages, Rock joined his best friend, Pit and chose to visit Miranda City with us and catch up on old times.


"So...how long are you going to stay with us, Rock? Thinking about...joining the UCIAT?"


"It's...tempting. But..."


"I know. You have people in your life to worry about, too."


Pit looked over his shoulder where Rock's creator, Dr. Thomas Xavier Light, his sister, Roll, and the eight original Light Labs robot masters--Cut Man, Guts Man, Ice Man, Bomb Man, Fire Man, Elec Man, Oil Man, and Time Man stood by.


"You know...you could bring your whole family along. Just for a visit. Not anything...extended."


"I'd like that. I'd have to clear it with Dr. Light...Dad."


Rock looked back to his creator. The Santa Claus lookalike in the labcoat smiled warmly. That twinkle in his eye seemed to indicate...maybe it was time to catch up.


As Rock turned around to ask me if it was okay...


"Hmm?"


A faint whistle? Where was it coming from?


Pit, Rock, Asriel, and I looked around. So did Dr. Light and Roll and the robot masters.


"Huh..." Rock scratched his head.


"Let's go home, everyone." I said.


"Lets do."


The UltraVerse was at peace.


This is hope. Hope for the present. Hope for the future. Hope for our friendship.


Hope springs eternal. It's a guiding light when the world insists on wrapping you in darkness. It's the very source of our determination.


As long as I had that hope...as long as Asriel had that hope, we'd walk together as best friends. This was what it meant. Now and forever, hope never walks alone.

The End

OOC: While the story is over there's one last thing left. Stay tuned...
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hope never walks alone , project: lost dreemurr , uciat , undertale , worlds apart

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