“Hey, Beautiful?” Sans came into the room and greeted Frisk with less stellar greetings from his future In-Laws. No problem, let it fall off like water. “Can I take little Al for a second? Gotta have a word.”
“I thought you were supposed to call them with both of their names?” Jonathan asked Sans.
“Most times, except if I really need to talk to one. Al.” His voice was a little strained. “Let’s go talk.”
“Aw, come on, pops,” Al started as Sans and Papyrus questioned him once again. “I’m gettin’ to know my new grandparents. I mean, it’s a meeting day. Let’s go mingle?”
“Al.” Sans bent down right in front of him. “Al, Al, Al. No more of this bypassing. I don’t care. Usually I’m cool with you, but this is far enough. You knew about this stuff in the first place. Who told you? How do you know? Why doesn’t Yard know more?” Al kicked around his feet, trying to pass on the question still. But, Sans wasn’t giving up, not this time. “There’s a time and a place for secrets. I heard that a lot. You probably have too, right? ‘Cept there’s another part to it. There’s a time and place for certain secrets. Now, was it one of Frisk’s guards? Did they tell you about the assassins, and then you told Yard?” Yard just didn’t have much.
“What becomes of you when you get older?” Papyrus asked, trying to urge Al on to. “Al?”
“Al, how come you won’t answer?” Even Sunburstal was trying to help. “Please answer them?”
“We were gonna be assassins. What else do ya need?” Al was getting defensive. “Leave me alone already.”
“Who told you that?”
“Nunya business,” Al said. “Can I go now?”
“Oh, the secrets are strong in you.” Sans picked him up but Al refused to meet him anywhere near eye to eye. “Do you want to help your mom? Do you want to help the Underground recover? You could be a big help, Al. Come on. Please?”
“Why?” Al said. “It’s pointless.”
Ah. That phrase. Sans remembered when he thought that the most. Whether Frisk was good or bad, it was all pointless because everything was ending. Yeah, Al was hiding a big secret, and he had to find out how pointless it had been. “Helping your mom is pointless?”
“No, just telling.” Al finally seemed to soften. “I mean, you care about mom. You care about us. Why do we need details? You’re already doing what you can to protect us, right?”
Aw, no. Sans was getting a really bad feeling with that phrase. “Kay. Yeah, I’m already doing everything I can to protect you and your momma Frisk. But.” He held onto Al’s little hand. “Al. If you know something about what’s gonna happen to you or your mommy, you should tell me. Not only because I want to know, but you can’t keep secrets buried like that. They eat at you.” He rubbed his little fingers gently. “They gnaw at your very soul. So, I really need to know. For both our sakes.”
“You gonna tell momma?” Al looked at his hand as Sans rubbed it. “She don’t need to know. She’s already scared, what with the will and the soul thing. Please? Pop.” He spoke a little softer. “Daddy? Don’t tell her?”
Shit. Al never called him daddy. That wasn’t his thing. If he was trying something new, there was a reason. “I gotta, Al. I can’t keep secrets from her. I mean, your momma? She’s gonna be my wife one day, just like your my kid. I can’t hide stuff from her.”
“Oh.” Al yanked his hand away. “Then nothin’ doin’. It’s nothing, and you aren’t getting it out of me.”
Sans. Papyrus spoke to him telepathically. This is obviously very serious. He needs to share it. Tell him you won’t share with Frisk.
Not share with Frisk?
Trust me, Brother.
Okay. Papyrus was the best monster out there. “Alright,” Sans agreed. “Fine. I promise I won’t tell Frisk.” He watched Al for a little while.
“Okay,” Al decided. “So, there was this guard, right? They come back and forth. Some have been guarding momma for like forever, but not all of them. Especially outside ones. Well, there was this one guard in particular and he was an assassin. He was supposed to kill momma and us. That’s what he told me,” Al confessed. “Only, he says that he was against it when he found out more about us. He didn’t say much more, just that, he was gonna let us live. He said that when we got just a little bit older he’d come get us and we’d be assassins. He said it’d be better than our green fate.” Al shrugged. “He never came back.”
Green fate. “So do you know about the green fate?” Sans asked.
Al scratched his nose. “Of course.” He didn’t add anything to that.
“Can you add something to that?” Sans encouraged him. There was no assassin that knew specifically what happened to the green monsters. If the guy never came back, he was probably killed from the knowledge he gained. Knowledge Al had, and didn’t want to share. “Al, come on. Please? For Ol’ Sansy? Pop? Daddy? I need to know.” Al couldn’t keep whatever it had been inside him anymore.
“No pollution,” Al said softly. “No gas. No oil. Just a nice, green paradise. Where everything’s connected.” He took his fingers and touched them together. “Just plug in your car. Just plug in your house. Just plug in everything, and nothing wasted.” It sounded like it should be beautiful words, but Al started to do something he had rarely done before. Very rarely. Al rubbed at his eyes. “Sunburst weakens me so much, I don’t like this!”
“He’s not weakening you,” Sans said, “he’s getting you to feel a little more emotional, Al. That’s something you gotta do. Now, this beautiful world you describe. Is everything beautiful in it?”
“Blue skies ’cause no pollution. Green grass. There’s cylindrical tubes around the roads, and you look out of them, and you can see nature. All the animals are free outside, unburdened by humans. Everyone eats pretty much just plants, and there’s several gardens. Everyone can eat, no one starves. Everyone’s healthy, as healthy as they can be. It’s a paradise.” Al took a moment before taking a deep breath and said, “Because green monsters will be fed intravenously by tubes and are shoved into energy conductors to constantly supply a flow of energy. They’ll never move again or know freedom . . . but the world’s a paradise and everything’s green.”
“The . . .” Fuck?! “Al, are you saying you were supposed to be strapped into some machine to give it your energy for the rest of your life?!”
“Never to move again. Never speak. Never anything, we just go into a coma if were lucky. The strong ones that don’t are surgically changed so they can’t feel, speak, or move. Same thing, just conscious through it all. It’s so scary!” Al hung onto Sans. “Batteries! We’re just batteries to plug in to create the paradise.”
Sans hugged him back, and watched Papyrus also come over. Al kept the words general but Sans could already see it. Generation after generation would get hooked up. The thought, it was terrifying. He could feel Al start to shake. Or Sunburst. Or maybe both. Sans lifted him up higher and stroked his little back. So tiny, strapped into some machine. He felt the little shirt he wore right beside him. Little cotton shirt. Cotton felt nice. The kids already had it bad in the prison, he and Frisk probably spoiled them a bit, but he was glad he wore the cotton. He was glad Sunburst-Al could wear any shoes he wanted, or none at all.
He was glad when he felt his fleshy cheek against his bony cheek, and that he didn’t back away. He moved back and forth with him, instinctively feeling like he really hadn’t wanted him to ever get too far from him again. Maybe instinct. Maybe the fact he’d never forgive himself if a human ever tried to take him away.
“I can’t run a city by myself,” Al continued, his cheek still next to Sans’, “but I can run part of a town, and I’m sure my future kid could run a whole town ’cause the momma will be like me, and when you get more of us natural resources together, they could start running a city. I mean, all you needs old fashioned dna and there ya go. ”
“I get it,” Sans said, “not exactly loving families.”
“Then . . . you get what’s goin’ on with momma?” Al asked. “Why they really want her? Makin’ us ain’t easy. They like, have to groom us, and do stuff to us. See? We’re not ever gonna be boss monsters,” he admitted. “We’ll be lucky if we see fifty. They took all that energy that should have given us the strongest powers to rule over other monsters and changed it to the transfer power.” He looked down. “And so we ain’t nothing. Barely can teleport.” He sighed. “We should have had the power of kings, and now we aren’t even fit for a pauper.” He tried to laugh it off. “Anyhow, sorry I got so serious on ya.”
“Yeah. No worries. I get it.” Sans figured it out. He knew what they wanted to do with her. They only discovered the ‘green way’ within the last twenty years or so according to the way they treated monsters. From invaluable to nothing. If Al could run part of a town, they would need his kids after him to be even stronger, and they would need greater numbers. But it took a potential boss monster to get it started and getting that wasn’t easy.
It was obvious from the other time he’d been taken to the surface. Found out Sans was perfect, then put him right back before anyone was aware of it. And this time? More destiny, but those scientists knew too. They read Frisk’s soul, like it was some Friday Night Mini-Movie. “I figured the half-human part affected that,” Sans said to Al. “Guess I never thought it was your green ability too.” Which wasn’t a natural ability, it was forced on the kids.
They needed more of the right kind of monsters. They aren’t going to kill off all the monsters with Frisk’s determination. They are there to stop the war so they can get what they want. Humans with that same knowledge could go back and pick and choose the right monsters before the war broke out. Using Frisk’s determination, without her will, just a genuine powered determined soul. Who knew what it could do?
Hundreds, maybe thousands of monsters, being plugged in, only to benefit mankind.
“If they ever catch us, they’re going to plug us in forever, Al?” Sunburst asked. “You needed to tell us that!”
“Not yet, we aren’t old enough yet, but it don’t matter,” Al answered back. “It’s just gonna scare others. It’s pointless knowing, we’re already safe as can be.” Al looked back to Sans. “It’s not all humans. Really, Pop-Pop. Not many even knew monsters exist. Not even I did. I thought I was some cross mutant thing at first. I think, anyone that even sees that kind of thing, that’s what they think. ‘Cause I am human. I look human. I got a human soul. And-”
“Yeah. I know it’s not all.” Sans knew Al was reading him and that his thoughts were going in a bad direction. It was instinctive. What was he supposed to be thinking after that? They wanted to take Frisk’s soul from her, take some humans that probably worshipped the idea of building a paradise more than their own lives, and change the timeline to benefit them so that they could accomplish their dream of a complete paradise.
They could do it. Just like Frisk could go back to when she first fell, or even the Frisk part of her in Genocide. She’d be able to go back. Change the timeline. She held a determination higher than any human had. Just separate will from the soul. Take that memory. Take that part of her. It’d turn that soul into an absolute weapon. And the result would be the end of all monsters this time.
With the only ones surviving, wishing they could die.
“Um? Pop-Pop?” Al touched his bony cheek. “Your face is real wet.”
“Yeah.” Sans rubbed it lightly, pretending he didn’t hear Papyrus definitely crying behind them. “Mental image of your family like that isn’t easy, Al.”
“Well, I know. I mean. I didn’t want to tell. You made me,” Al reminded him. “I was fine keeping it to myself.”
“Sans.” Papyrus tried to rub his own eyes. “We are not quite that close to the children’s real time. Frisk was only supposed to be a child now. D-do you think there are already monsters in that position yet?”
“It doesn’t matter,” Al told Papyrus. “If you get plugged in once, you’re plugged in until you die.”
“Never gonna happen.” Sans had an extra choke in his voice but he hugged Sunburst-Al tightly. “Nothing is going to happen to you. Not your siblings. Definitely, not Frisk.” Sans gave him to Papyrus. “Dry your eyes, Pap, it’s fine. We’re okay. We’ll stay okay. I gotta go talk to Asgore and Tori.”
“Hang on!” Al protested.
“I said Frisk, Al, I wouldn’t tell Frisk,” Sans said. “It don’t mean I can’t tell them, and they can tell Frisk first.”
“Cheatin’ Sans. That’s gonna hurt momma!” Al complained, starting to struggle against Papyrus. “She’s already scared enough.” Then? He moved to hugging Papyrus. Definitely Sunburst’s scared emotions were dominating now.
“She’s got the right to know what they want to do if they get her soul,” Sans said to him. “The actions your momma can take at a time, or I can take, it all depends on several things. Several factors are involved, you know that. You’re smart, Sunburst-Al.” Which is why he wouldn’t share it. He wanted his mom to believe if anything happened, they’d be fine. That she could do something about it to make life better for them. “I’m not keeping this a secret from her, no matter how much you might hate me.”
Sunbust-Al coughed once, and rubbed his eyes again. “If we get taken, she’ll get scared.”
“She’d get scared anyhow. Your momma actually does a lot better when she knows what’s at stake.” Frisk hated the helpless feeling of not knowing. He finally got a head nod. “Take care of Sunburst-Al, Pap, I’ll be back.” Wait. Then again, as he took a step forward, he didn’t like that idea. It felt. Screw it. “No, hang on.” He went over and picked him up from Papyrus, placing him on his shoulder. Sunburst-Al hung on tight. “That okay?” He nodded. “Good. Let’s go.”
Midnight . . .
“Frisk?” Josephine approached her daughter from behind. Shortly after Frisk spoke with Sans the Skeleton, she had moved toward the backyard. She was over, staring at some of the flowers. She looked back and saw Sans staring at the door, but she wasn’t budging for him. She moved closer to Frisk. “Frisk, are you okay?”
“Which color is your favorite?” Frisk asked her. She gestured to a row of flowers that were yellow, red, and blue. “I’m partial to yellow for sentimental reasons. I love the blue though.” She looked down toward her black shirt. “Blue was my favorite shirt color. I like purple too. Purple’s unique.”
“Oh, blue is my favorite too.” Josephine moved toward Frisk’s side. “Sans the Skeleton wanted to comfort you, but I beat him to it. Knowing you, cornering you is the best way to find out about what’s wrong.”
Frisk gestured to the blue flower. “If anything happens, that’s my future. So I better get the color right.”
Josephine listened to Frisk, while trying to comfort her as Frisk told her what Sans had said to her. They wanted to steal Frisk’s will away from her soul, place it in her children, and use it somehow to travel back and change history with the monsters, so they could create a green paradise. Josephine wasn’t completely surprised about the development. For hundreds of years, mankind had tried to think about how it would preserve the earth. What it would do when the natural resources went out. How to handle the excess population and food shortage. The enhanced pollution people were creating.
It sounded like part of mankind found it’s answer, but it was too cruel for words. She hugged Frisk gently. “I refuse to let anything happen to you or my grandchildren, Frisk. Those scientists will never find you, I promise.” She rubbed her daughter’s back, feeling her familiar embrace. “King Asgore and Queen Toriel assure me that the technology they are using on the new barrier will be very strong.”
“The monsters have been underground, away from humans for so long. The science community cooked up some genuinely terrible things. What if their barrier isn’t strong enough? What if it’s found?” Frisk asked. “The Underground was burnt to nothing in less than a 24 hour stay. The Underground is getting their technology from those scientists’ same designs.” Frisk shrugged. “Who knows what terrible things they could have?”
Doctor Void stood up, putting on his best face. Since Doctor Curtis had been too rambunctious with using a torch, two lives were lost. That was unfortunately the trouble with working with his kind. He stepped up to the podium of the court. “I am here to petition a safe and effective way to find a person of great determination that we need, as well as discuss a small blunder on behalf of SRF.”
“Doctor Curtis did not shine a very good light on your special project,” one of the court leaders said. “If Melievers even knew about this, it would be all over the nightly news. This is not something we need to make explicably known. I for one am not a meliever, but this goes far beyond what is tolerable.”
“Tolerable from which point of view? The monsters or the rest of humanity?” Doctor Void tried to stay professional yet approachable. There was a head of three of the court, but one was already deadset against him. “I know Doctor Curtis went too far. It’s truly not his fault, and to even claim it is, well, that’s being intolerant.”
“We are not basing this on being prejudice toward his condition,” the second court leader said. “We are basing this on the fact he had two people killed in the pursuit of a determined person, with who knows what kind of damage taking place to the environment of that area.”
“The only person who was at fault for this, was the person who gave Doctor Curtis the position to be there.” Doctor Void stuffed his hands in his pockets. “We see this situation, seeing the fact that two men will never be able to see their families again. We know there are sons and daughters who miss and love their father, and wives who will be grieving for a long time.” Doctor Void looked toward the leader on the left. Maybe he could be more swayed. “Doctor Curtis saw nothing but ten obstacles, and losing two but still having eight to get what he wanted. That is what having only determination and no soul provides. There is no guidance to right and wrong.”
“Who was in charge of letting Doctor Curtis go out there?” The third leader said.
“He had been,” Doctor Void said, “but he can’t be at fault for that. His GL Erika Curlick was sick. Sickness is a natural thing, and so she cannot be held responsible either.”
One of the leaders started looking through papers. “Let’s talk about what you bring her for a second because this won’t take long. The fact is that to put out such a high level of radar for one person isn’t going to work. What you want is only used in dire emergencies. Tornadoes. Hurricanes. Jungles. Forests. It is to help find the poor souls who are trapped, to give them a chance to live. The purpose for what you want it is not approved for it’s function.” He stamped Denied on a letter. “Now let’s discuss this small ‘blunder’ as you put it. I think it’s best to take actions to ban the SRF.”
“The Soul Reforming Foundation has several wonderful uses,” Doctor Void said, trying to counter the thinking.
“Yes, and few of them have ever been approved for public sponsorship or awareness,” the second leader said, also striking the letter with his stamp of Denied. “You were created to find different ways to save individuals with soul problems, but ever since your leader had his own problem, your mission has been changed. You haven’t created anything useful for humanity in over ten years, and even that wouldn’t save you in this situation.”
“The simple ‘that’ you are referring to saves weak souls that are known to unattach from the body. 2.5 million people survive, living in peace, knowing that they are fine and there is no need to believe they are lucky to live a full year. They don’t have to worry whether their children will be affected by this and their souls taken shortly after birth from their own will. The ‘that’ even won us the Humanitarian of the Year Award.” Doctor Void kept pushing. “We also created the technology to check for if the ‘that’ we created is even needed. We don’t have to go back several years into the past to see the chances, we can see it straight inside of their DNA now if they will lose the bond with their soul.” He shoved his hands in his pockets. “That is pretty good for a ‘that’.”
“As it very well may be helpful, and as the SRF used to be seen as such a good corporation-”
“For those who aren’t saved, Guiding Lights are put out annually-”
“Don’t interrupt!” The first leader warned him. “Monsters and humans don’t get along. They can steal souls, and humans can kill them too easily. It’s a terrible combination, and so I don’t mind that the world has kept these secrets of their existence in the dark. However, the SRF, in order to do what it wants to? It would not only increase the Melievers, it would have to get approval from all of humanity to do what it wants to do. And frankly, you would have to be out of your will to believe that was a good- out of your mind! Out of your mind,” he quickly tried to correct himself. “I am sorry for that intolerance, I was born in a different time and I still have slip-ups every now and then.”
“You were going to say ‘out of your will’.” Doctor Void caught him. “That’s prejudice.”
The first leader went quiet.
The second leader took over. “There will never be a mass majority of humans that will think going green with monsters would ever be worth it. No matter how much it counteracts man’s presence on this planet, it won’t happen.”
“You know what else is cruel?” Doctor Void asked. “Eating beef. Eating chicken. The cruelty of killing animals, gutting them, slaughtering them and chopping them up for their meals. It’s not necessary, many people know it. We can live without meat, several have changed their ways. Yet how many people know how that yummy piece of steak hit their plate, and can still eat it? And why?” He chuckled. “Because we all know it tastes damn fine. And this? This isn’t killing any monsters. It’s saving them.”
“Saving them by hooking them up and draining their power for the rest of their lives?” The third leader put in his word. “Monsters aren’t cattle. Just because we can’t get along with them doesn’t mean they belong on a dinner plate, to use as you see fit. Not only that, but no one has the right to go back that far into time. I don’t care how much determination they might have, going back that far could jeopardize an entire future. Too many people could be unborn. Things could drastically change. No, never.”
Damn it. “My great grandfather started this company!” He was losing, and he was losing fast. Not only the authority to use what would find Frisk Carlisle in a matter of minutes, but he was about to lose the rights of the company! “No price is too great to save the world. People only care about the cow’s rights when they don’t see it. What people don’t know directly, won’t affect them. No more pollution! No more used resources!” He pointed at them each. “What about our Natural Resource monsters? They aren’t even that very old yet.”
“They will be taken into the Mutant Program.”
“Of course, because that’s healthy. How many suspicious cases have fallen into that program? How many scientist and monsters deaths have been increased since it’s inception?” Doctor Void pushed. “How many are considered MIA?”
“The Mutant Program does nothing that has not been approved officially.” The third leader stamped his Denied on the paper too. “Take that news however you wish.”
Doctor Void stood there, listening to them on the time in which he needed to comply with what. Moving the Natural Resources. Severance Pay. Where to move the equipment to. Which small distributions needed to be handled first. “What about the guiding lights? You can’t just eliminate SRF! What about the guiding lights?!”
“There will be a non-profit organization that will employ volunteers.”
“Those are not certified GL’s. Those are great people who care but that is not the same thing. This cannot just-”
“End of discussion. Leave or you will be escorted out.”
“SRF keeps everything together, that is just one corner!” How could they really think this was a good idea? “We distribute the GL’s to those with only wills, we keep double-timeline jumpers in place, we make sure there is not chaos between parallels that will cause an imbalance, and we were even working on the Advancement of Treatment for Shattered Souls!” He held his fingers together. “We are this close to being able to bring them back to one place and time.” They had already actually done that, but with the mind so segmented between timelines, they were just insane and put down to put them out of their misery. “I believe I’ve found a cure to bring them back, as well as readjusting their mind function. We were in the middle of testing it, but if it worked, would you let SRF stay in operation?”
“So humane, yet you believe that the SRF should really go back in time and change things to better the future?” The second leader asked. “Have you been tested for WWA yourself? Your grandfather six times removed had it happen, and your great grandfather had problems.”
“I have a soul.” Terribly offensive way to ask. “I admit, I was treated for Weak Will Attachment, but I do not have that problem anymore. I do not even need a GL.” Which was good since they were about to be gone.
One of the leaders kept staring at him oddly. ” . . . how far has SRF gone? Your soul is your soul, correct?”
That didn’t matter. “My will is not detaching from my soul. I am not a soulless being like Doctor Curtis. I am not my grandfather. I just believe this is the best course of action to take for the future of humanity!”
“SRF does nothing on the scale of Barrier Spelunking International but you won’t ever shut it down because that’s just money. Nor will you ever touch Humanity Tech Incorporated. Saving lives, improving health conditions. That’s worth the lives of monsters I see, but a greener planet isn’t worth it? Oh but again, money.”
WWA: Weak Will Attachment: A condition in that the will pulls away from the soul. The individual may become scatter-brained or developed sociopathic tendencies. In severe cases, the will can deattach from the soul.
SRF: Soul Reforming Foundation. This is the chain name of the whole company that was in charge of taking Frisk.
GL: Guiding Lights. Frisk wasn’t a trained guiding light, but she could probably do the job. A guiding light is an individual who keeps the soulless on track in life instead of making major mistakes.
Melievers: A belittling name for those who believe monsters walk among them.