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“He had several holes to old barriers on his property, Doctor Curtis.”
That didn’t matter. It took them less than 24 hours to find the man’s house whom held the secret of why Frisk Carlisle was gone. The Underground, where she had come from, access was right there. He had to pull in more than one favor, but once he explained what was contained beneath a barrier, they each complied. “I know that.” He was waiting for the important piece of information.
“Normally, it takes forever to explore barriers. But, we were lent a human soul sensor. We found a couple of unfortunate souls that must have been trapped over the years and died-”
“I don’t care about that, did you find her?” He asked impatiently. Of course they found dead human bodies and souls trapped with them. Useless. Not important.
“There are several souls being sensed in one open barrier,” he finally finished. “Some aren’t complete human, they are a little off.”
“Yes, most of them should either not have a host body, or they shouldn’t exist.” Doctor Curtis knew that too, they examined Frisk Carlisle’s soul intensely. “Did you get one that was completely human? A strong soul?”
“Yes, we found one.”
“Then go and get down there. A team, now.” He snapped his fingers. “Where is the leader of this crew?” He watched someone run toward him. “Get your men working. I want her dragged out.”
“What exactly are we looking for down in this barrier?” The leader asked.
Doctor Curtis looked at the name on the tag. “Mister Reechu. Please instruct your men to use any of the assistance I have. Including brutal force. In fact?” He thought about it. Would it work? “Everything but the torch.” No, wait. After all the punishment for hurting the monsters, he had a better idea. “Send down the torch.”
“The torch? For a barrier?” Mister Reechu didn’t look convinced. “I know this is a heavy, rush project you’ve set on us but a torch is not a good idea. If there is a facility-”
“There is no facility. Simply some monster removal.” Simply a Monster Kingdom. While it would have been more beneficial to grab and collect them, it would be filled with red-tape, and in the end, monsters were a pain. Human kind could now create resources and soon they would have complete preservation. Those monsters would be handy. The old ones long forgotten? No one ever knew they were even there anymore. It didn’t matter whether they lived or not. The only thing that mattered, was Frisk Carlisle. “Send down the torch.”
A froggit jumped around lightly, making froggit sounds to another one. It jumped away from the other one and saw a whimsun flying in the air just a short distance away. It hopped around a corner of the ruins. Then? It heard a scream. A deadly scream. Turning around, it watched the whimsun run, trying to turn the corner, but it fell into a thousand ashes. There was a small sound that came from the froggit as it eyes lit by what it saw coming.
Toriel woke up as she heard sounds in the Ruins. She moved out of bed. There was a cacophany of shrills and yells. As she opened up the back door, she could see why. “Oh no . . .” There was no time. There was no time! She quickly ran through the back of her house, down her stairs and out into the snow, shouting to them all. “Run everyone, run!”
Word of Toriel’s yelling caught on as everyone started to run within ear shot, and others spread the word of what she had said. Run. Run.
“Run, run, run!”
Sans needed rest but he had enough going on that he also felt restless. So, it didn’t help when he heard shouts of run outside his window. He got up and looked out, seeing swarms of monsters running. Uh oh. “Frisk, get up, something’s happening.” He looked back and she was almost instantly up. She was still a little weary with whatever those scientists did, but she was good enough for what they had to do.
“Sans!” Papyrus slammed the door open. “I have Al and Juleyard.” He did, they were both in each of his arms, confused. “Everyone is running, we should run too!”
Yep. Sans and Frisk moved downstairs, Sans watching Frisk a little, making sure she didn’t fall, and then ran to the front door. As they started to run, they tried to find out more. The request to run was from Toriel. “Keep up with her,” Sans insisted as he left Frisk to Papyrus. “I’ll be back.” He took shortcuts backward in short bursts, until he saw her.
Toriel was almost out of breath, but she didn’t need to tell him what was going on. “Fuck. Me.” There was no space, no room, no survival. It was an angry fire, horizontal with no end that he could see, shooting over the entire mountain. Nothing stopped it’s path. Nothing could survive it. It was so hot, even the hottest monsters could not survive that. He heard the screams behind Toriel, the monsters that were too small and weak that couldn’t keep up the pace.
“Sans!” Toriel yelled. “Run, just run!”
To where? Sans quickly grabbed Toriel and took her straight to the castle. There was no time. They had to find a way to break the barrier now, or no one survived.
Frisk looked at her children beneath Papyrus’ arms. She still wasn’t in the best shape. Why were they all running? She looked back, trying to see something. It looked like orange. Red. There was something trailing behind them, but it was still a fair distance away. Before she turned back around, she felt the ground change beneath her. It went from dirt, to smooth tile.
“Got you.” Sans’ voice. She looked straight again. Papyrus sat the kids down. Toriel and Asgore were there too. “You must be one serious weapon they want, Frisk.”
That. That didn’t sound good. Frisk looked toward Toriel. “What’s going on?”
“There is a vertical wall of fire with no end in sight,” Toriel said to her. “There is no way to bypass it. It burns too hot to use anything against it. Even Snowdin, it doesn’t have strong enough powers to stop it.”
“It won’t stop,” Asgore added. “A matter of hours, the Underground will be completely incinerated.”
Frisk could barely hold her breath. Incinerated. Everyone was running toward the castle, but there was no way out. They are coming after me. They just want me. She looked down toward Al and Juleyard. There was no choice. “They want me. If I give up, they’ll stop.”
“No guarantee,” Sans’ voice came from behind her.
“The humans have what they want from monsters,” Asgore agreed with Sans. “You giving yourself up would have no effect.”
“Besides, how could you?” Toriel asked. “You are trapped down here too.”
“Yes, and they would want me alive, to be their weapon.” They wouldn’t simply kill her. “Sans? Can you take me closer to it?”
“Whatcha thinking there?” Sans asked her. Yet, he didn’t wait for her response as he took her there.
It was already out of the Ruins. Sans took her a safe distance away. “They wouldn’t want to kill me.” Frisk moved toward it, but Sans quickly grabbed her hand.
“Whatcha thinking there?” He repeated his question, stronger.
“This isn’t regular fire, you already know that,” Frisk answered him. “There is a good chance, that maybe, a human soul can survive through it. I think it’s called a torch.” Frisk had seen one before. “It’s used around areas with animals when humans get into trouble in an environment. Like in a jungle. If a human gets lost, it gets rid of everything to find it.”
“Let me guess? When a human goes where they aren’t supposed to go, they just set off this ‘torch’ thing to destroy everything except the human it wants to save?” Oh, his voice. It was so thick with hate. Not like Frisk could blame him. “Oh. I don’t mean you, Frisk. You and the boys are more monster to me.”
Well, it was nice to hear that. Especially at the end.
“We better get back. Should be with everybody when it happens,” Sans said gracefully. “So? What do ya want, Frisk? If you think that thing is going to let you live. You want that or not?”
No. They will take me, put me back in that tube, and eventually still my will. Of course I don’t want to go back. Death was better, so much better. Al and Juleyard though. Resources were treated better. The babies would even have a better time since they were resources. “The babies should be born. They will all be alright.”
“Havin’ a will separate from a soul is tough. Having it extracted while alive is gonna be a hell that made LOVE look like a breeze,” Sans added. Frisk understood what he was doing. He was offering to help her escape that with a mercy killing. She could go at the same time as all of them. “Your right, little ones deserve a chance, but they gonna be okay out there? Better?” He asked. “No skeletons out there. They all died young. I even thought I had a baby sister, one that survived. Nothing. Nothing left, Beautiful.”
“They won’t be tortured.” If that was what he was worried about, she would put his mind at ease. “They will be called ‘resource’. They will be every bit as important as Al and Juleyard. With no sentence to carry out anymore, they’ll be okay. Relatively.” Frisk didn’t know what the future held, or how enslaved they might be later on to keep meeting human demands. “My parents, Sans, where are they?”
“Probably running,” he answered. “It’s cause I looked into you and it’s what I saw. I guess I was just a little nervous. Things stick in my head and I calls it as I see it.”
Frisk watched the burning wall of flame. Her head was filled with so much. Her presence, here, was the reason this was happening. This was so much worse than having a human come in to laying down a massacre. She could only fight with an encounter. That wall of flame, the torch. There was no escape. It would burn up everything that laid down in it’s path and would consume everything. Her parents, who knew what would happen to them. Her children, all of their futures were uncertain. And her, turned into a weapon. Meanwhile, Sans. Papyrus. Toriel. Everyone, just everyone.
Then she paid attention again. What was he talking about ‘it’s cause I looked into you?’ Frisk turned to look toward him, trying to match the same bravery he was showing about the situation. “What are you talking about?”
“You asked earlier. Spoke so casually to ya, I did that,” Sans admitted. “Shouldn’t have, not with the sudden ‘you’re gonna be my future wife’ looming over our heads. Didn’t seem like I should be doing that.” He gave it a few seconds. “There was no ugliness inside of you. Not a trace. You’re . . .” He shrugged. “You’re beautiful, Frisk. I called it as I saw it.”
Oh. The beautiful remark. That.
“Ah, don’t get funky,” Sans almost chuckled. Almost real enough to believe. “Not like awkwardness or whatever matters now. We’re dying. I get a ticket to tell my almost human wife she wasn’t half as ugly as she believed herself to be inside.”
What? Frisk blinked. Oh, I get it. It wasn’t like . . . like-liking her. That’s why he hid it, he didn’t want her confused. He was just being plainly honest with her last night. He doesn’t see my soul as ugly. Sans. He wasn’t just . . . “Thank you, Sans.”
“Yeah, well, a great rift in what happened last time,” Sans reminded her. “Even fetched ya to Asgore.” He jingled his hands in his pockets. “I knew he was going to kill you. You didn’t exactly let me get to know you last time you were down here though, and then I found out what ya did. I just.”
“You got through it, I know,” Frisk said. “You couldn’t have done anything anyhow.” She knew where she stood last time. In the same fiery pits of hell she was currently staring at. “That didn’t make you any less ugly to me, either.” She looked toward him. Most of the time she had survived down there with her children, she had hid herself in the bonnet. Not just from others, but him too. His uncanny way of knowing everything about her, she had enough guilt riding inside of her, she wanted to prevent that as much as possible. “This fire is death to everyone but the children,” she answered honestly. “Monsters right away, me postponed, and a life of I don’t know what for the kids.” She covered her mouth. “Let’s go back.”
If there was a solution, they needed to figure it out, fast. If only she wasn’t grounded.
“Six human souls. We can.”
“Asgore. You’re an . . . no!”
Frisk arrived to the sound of bickering between Toriel and Asgore.
Papyrus came over toward Sans. “We have six human souls. We have three very naughty humans,” he said to Sans. “And, Asgore seems to be leaning . . . to open the barrier so we can escape.”
“Three very naughty humans?” Frisk asked.
“The spelunker that betrayed you,” Sans said, “the guy that wanted to kill you, and the girl that got you preggo to get you grounded. Not the best ones on Earth.”
Hm. She should tell them. “You can’t mix souls with no body, but if you get seven humans still alive with souls, you can break it,” she said. “There are plenty here, right?”
“Not really,” Papyrus explained. “The other humans that are technically here? They are not supposed to be. They are goners, and their soul is going to be too different.”
“Yep, Bro,” Sans agreed. He looked toward Frisk. “Don’t count. There’s the three baddies and you. I mean, maybe Al and Juleyard? They’re different than other goners, but probably just ’cause of the resource thing. I wouldn’t count on it.”
“Even with them, that would be six, total,” Papyrus said. “There are no other humans. We weren’t working to bag a bunch to open it yet. We weren’t expecting them to figure it all out in one night, Frisk!”
“Yeah. Ultimate downfall. Again. Underestimating.” Sans went silent briefly.
“Whatever they used to track where our entrance us, they will know quickly which way we leave,” Toriel said to Asgore. “It does no good.”
“We must move quickly.”
“We don’t have what we need, Asgore!” Toriel yelled. “We can’t all aimlessly start walking through the human’s world.”
“We need a plan, a good plan!” Papyrus insisted. “But there’s no time for a plan. In a matter of hours, it will be all over.”
“Nah, you’ve just got to become the worst of monsterkind.”
Frisk looked down toward Al. What did he mean? She knelt down to him, still stuck in Papyrus’ arms. “What do you mean, worst of monsterkind?”
“It’s way too early to be up,” Al said. “See what happens when you get up? All kinds of stuff. Best to sleep in.”
“Al,” Frisk said seriously. “If you know anything, you need to tell us.”
“If you are a human eradicator, you can survive,” Juleyard added softly.
What? Frisk didn’t understand. “What do you mean?”
“Resources aren’t the only ones who survive,” Al admitted. “When we’re with the human doctors, in like our real timeline? Where we were born?”
“Monsters in the shape of humans guarded us while we were ‘working’ ourselves,” Juleyard admitted. “While most monsters are kept for experimentation, some are trained to live as human eradicators. They handle the jobs of things that regular humans can’t.”
“They . . . use monsters?” Asgore asked incredulously. “Are you kidding?”
“Nah, ’cause ain’t nothing stronger than a monster. Especially on tough missions,” Al added. “Like, um. Like.”
“Like sealing monsters inside of a mountain,” Juleyard finished. “Sorry, momsy. Sorry, Sansy. Sorry! Humans didn’t learn to seal when they learned magic, they used it to control monsters. It was more beneficial to them.”
“It don’t do no good knowing. We didn’t think you’d care,” Al said.
“Don’t, really,” Sans added to that.
“Well we do!” Toriel shouted. “Boys! You should have told me that. Monsters are the ones who sealed us in? Brainwashed?”
“No.” Juleyard cleared his throat. “There’s more than one thing going up on the surface? And . . . the monsters up there, they are kind of are . . .”
“They are buttholes that never wanted to follow a king,” Al said. “Not every monster agreed with their king.”
“Betrayers?” Toriel remarked.
“I didn’t see any of that in the data we looked up,” Papyrus said.
“Of course not, that was all research,” Juleyard explained. “There’s no research to those monsters. They just are! And that’s why the world doesn’t like monsters! And it’s why I wasn’t real happy at first when I found out I was one . . . ”
Little secret keeper. Even Juleyard kept something from her.
“If ya escape, I bet our old lab in the prison has the identities and stuff,” Al said. “You’ll be fine. You get like these little trackers that represent human souls. You get like umm . . . like super agent stuff, you know?”
“Because you go out committing murder!”
“That and just tasks too,” Al said, trying to lighten it up. “There’s only 400. Way more than enough to cover.”
“How many betrayers were there?” Toriel asked.
“I don’t know. They grew over time up there,” Al said casually. “I don’t think you get it? It’s like a whole other faction. I mean? Did you really think Betsys Mom, Alphys, came up with the determination reducing potion on her own?”
“Thousands upon thousands,” Juleyard said. “Evil, wicked betrayers!”
“Jobs a job. They aren’t the original monster betrayers themselves, they’re just descendants.” Al shrugged. “Plus, they got families to feed. They’re monsters. They could be exposed. What else they gonna do?”
“Nothing! They shouldn’t kill people. That kind of thing is wrong.”
“They kill other monsters too. Shouldn’t get too worked up about it. That was gonna be a part-time job when we grew up.” He chuckled. “It was gonna be cool.”
“Al!” Frisk was getting fed up. Her children hid so much from her!
“What? Not like we could say anything,” Al said once more. “You were in prison, momma. Lucky to even have us. Couldn’t mess up. Remember?” He adjusted his little poofball hat. “Love you?”
Ugh. “I love you too.” He always had to add that in the end when he said something wrong. They were right though. They couldn’t tell Frisk anything, and if that’s what the monsters that didn’t have experimentation had to do to survive? Then it really was a tough adjustment for Juleyard. How did those monsters treat and look at them? It didn’t seem as if there was any love between them at all. If Juleyard had known of monsters, and been so terribly struck when he found out he had been one. They are not kind monsters. Betrayers of the kingdom.
Hm? Frisk looked back toward Sans.
“If not in that prison’s yet, they are out there somewhere,” Sans said. “Barrier we can get up is temporary at most. We need identities, we need safety until we can get back to normal again.”
“If we get out,” Toriel said softly. “They are horrible identities have. What exactly do they do, Al? What is their purpose?”
“All kinds,” Al answered. “We were going to be the cool ones when we grew up.”
“Al!” Juleyard warned him. “No we weren’t!”
“Yeah we were.”
“Well no one told me.”
“Nah. You were too scared of the monsters in the first place. It’d just scare you more. You know, knowing you’d be risking your life to take out people and monsters when you grew up.”
“Al, you should have told me, I am your brother!”
“Eh, I am telling you now, because we’re kind of. Um? Like Sans would say, Boned.” Al chuckled. “Last minute stuff, gotta get it off the chest before I die.”
” . . .” Asgore looked toward Sans and Frisk.
Yes, her son wasn’t quite normal in the head all the time. They should have already known that. Maybe they didn’t know the extent. No, looking around, it seemed like Sans seemed to know. Everyone else seemed a little shocked. Al was not an emotional boy, but there was more to it than that. He cared more about her suffering than his own death, or anyone elses. He was quite fine with the situation because they were all going together in his mind. No one suffered any extra than anyone else. That was her Al.
“The fire is moving past Snowdin already. Waterfall is right next to it,” Papyrus warned King Asgore. “We need a decision, highness!”
“I can do it,” Sans muttered to Asgore. “I know where I first picked Frisk up. If I get that info, I can flip us.”
“Into . . . assassins?” Toriel asked. “Sans, I don’t think-”
“There isn’t time to think,” Sans warned her. “Any slow moving monster is dead up to Snowdin. I can hear the faint shrill of Temmie’s. We don’t have time, Tori.” He looked to King Asgore. “It’s everyone, or it’s this.”
” . . . where is Alphys?” Asgore asked.
“Probably hiding so she doesn’t have to deal with this,” Papyrus said honestly, “because she can’t! We are Gaster’s descendants, and we can’t either! We have information for another barrier, we have information for a temporary barrier, and we have information on new monsters up there but we don’t have time to do anything with it! Even Gaster himself couldn’t do anything in this amount of time.”
“No time,” Sans said again. “This is way before we were ready.”
“Okay, we become some strange monster assassins,” Toriel said bitterly. “What about our humans and half humans? They are not monster.”
“Doubt all the assassins fall for each other,” Sans answered that. “Gotta intermingle up there. Call them family, just like they are. It’ll keep them under the radar.”
“Just long enough that we can work a real plan out. A real place. A way to save the other monsters. A real barrier that will keep humans out. Maybe an invisible barrier?” Papyrus recommended. “Considering one of the humans was down here, invisible, the technology is there. That could really help.”
“The kingdom can survive.” Asgore shared a small look with Toriel. “There is no choice. We will do what we must to survive.”
He smiled sweetly to her. “You always were the better leader, Toriel.” Asgore gestured behind him. Undyne had waited there, in the dark, not saying a word. She finally came forth. “Fetch the three humans. One of them must serve the purpose.”
“No, no, no!” Frisk watched the human Cathy, the one that got her pregnant, shivering. Begging, pleading for her life. “Please, no, no! I can do good, I can help! Um? You wanna be the assassin people?” Her knees were jerking back and forth. All her shame poured out, she held nothing back. “It’s more than just numbers, you can take over where they are! You know? Their um, their homes, and property? Cars. Identities. Schools for the kids? Everything, everything! I know how to do that, I have experience in that!”
Screaming. Screaming for her life. Frisk tried to remain silent. She did not get any choice in this. One of them had to go. It was by Asgore’s own order. She felt something latch onto her hand and she turned.
“Not your fault,” Sans said simply. “Not your fault. Not on you.”
It didn’t change the sting.
“If you betray us over there, you can still easily be killed,” Asgore said. “We would have to do something with you, if you survived. I don’t know who would really want to adopt you.”
Please. Frisk looked around. No more. Please.
“No one would, why would they? So, identity property isn’t all there is,” the man Knat started to speak. “Small, small. Look, um, you don’t want to have to go out and slaughter all the monsters to take over their lives, right? ‘Cause that’s not you? Merciful, right?” His voice rose so high. “Look, I can set them out. I can put them all out on a mission. Yeah, and then I can strand them. As long as you want. Months? A year, no problem. I can do it. No one will find them. Abandoned island. Easy, I can do that. I can do that for you. Sending them out, I used to do that.”
“But I could get you to the property!” Cathy yelled out. “That’s so important!”
“But, it’s obvious.” He looked toward Frisk. “You don’t want to kill. Right? So, don’t kill. Uh. This is how you don’t kill. Keep me alive, and I won’t kill.”
“I can get you all their money, all their identities!”
“I’ll make sure they never back, but they’ll be fine! And that’s what we want, mercy, right? Mercy, mercy?!” Knat was starting to plead as much as Cathy. He looked toward Frisk. “Please. Don’t do this. You don’t want this on your conscience.”
“Don’t talk to her.” Sans’ voice. His light, sweet voice. No light. No sweet.
Frisk looked toward her children. Juleyard was covering his eyes, trying not to panic. Al was just hanging out, like everything was just fine. She looked to Toriel and Asgore. Asgore held his scepter, ready to take one. Toriel, would not, and could not, speak on anyone’s behalf. It was one of them, or every single one of the monsters. Torturous. Hearing the begging. Is that what they did? Was I so filled with LOVE I couldn’t hear it?
“I’ll take her.”
Who? She knew that voice. She only heard it a little. Right beside the human, Cathy.
Sans chuckled. “Good luck with her.”
“I can work with it.” Snowdrake’s father looked down at his son. “Snowdrake still needs a mom, and she needs someone.”
“A bird?” Cathy just stared at it. “A bird?”
“Bird that saved you. No right to be picky,” Sans told her. “He just pulled you off the chopping block.”
“Fine,” Asgore said, “than it’s between-”
“Hey, what the-!” Undyne spoke.
Frisk watched. Surprised. He had done so much. He betrayed her confidence. He sent monsters to the lab. He even tried to steal her children. Teegs.
He stumbled back slowly, the spear still shoved in his chest. “Oh come on. It was gonna be me.” He started throwing up blood. “I have no credentials, nothing to help. But I wasnt’ . . . going . . . to be killed by fucking monsters.” His breathing became harder. “One time. Geez. Just because . . . I took pity one time on a little girl’s voice . . . crying from a barrier.”
He fell backwards. Frisk immediately ran toward him, bending down toward him. Without him, she never would have been freed. He hated monsters. He didn’t understand them, he just thought they were something else. But, his misunderstanding, for actual humans? For a little girl. Who cried out desperately for her mommy and daddy.
“Move, Frisk.” She felt Sans pull her upward. “Asgore needs through.” He pulled her toward him and Papyrus.
Frisk watched Asgore. She had never seen it before. How a monster used a soul. Asgore reached toward Teegs as the other souls were freed from the containers. They spun around Asgore faster and faster before they all hit the barrier at once. It hit with a loud force and a crackle before breaking.
Open. Monsters were starting to head out. They waited by the entrance for Asgore.