The Forgotten City, The Void, ????
Leaving his True Lab in that compromised Timeline behind, he returned to his private domain in The Void; the negative dimension between all functioning universes. Confident that he’d escaped the hostile anomaly, Dr. W.D. Gaster telepathically recalled his followers, and, on impulse, the lone hapless witness, all of whom had been cast into The Void with him.
In a blank, featureless landscape, he brushed off the lingering effects of the strange Magic the anomaly had attacked him with, wincing at an odd rustling inside his robes.
No matter. They were here, and he had much to do.
“Thank you for coming.” Gaster said with as much civility as he could muster, “...not that any of you had any real choice in the matter.”
“Did you do it?” the witness; a young armless drake-type that reminded him of an old student, asked him, her milky white eyes wide with hope, “Did you get them?”
“Of course, child.” He replied, amused in spite of everything, holding out his hand and recalling the six Human Souls King Asgore had collected and stored in New Home, “There were none there capable of stopping or even impeding me, thanks to the abilities our new acquaintance bestowed.”
Such small, seemingly quaint things, these were. But the power and potential they represented…
With one more Soul he could become a god and reconstitute himself, and then step fully once more into the waking world! He’d been so close; a seventh child had indeed fallen into The Underground…and he’d nearly taken them in Waterfall, in a trap laid behind that hidden door.
His robe disturbed again. It hadn’t been the Souls struggling inside his “pocket dimension”, after all. He opened a fold, puzzled, and from it emerged a crow with a single pink eye, cawing impotently as it flapped its wings and took flight, scratching him in the process.
“I’ve had enough of crows today.” Gaster said coldly, summoning a blaster and taking aim.
But suddenly it wasn’t a crow but the anomaly, their other eye missing now. Somehow, they’d exchanged places with it even through adjacent dimensions.
“We are attacked!” he cried, firing, but the anomaly simply dropped out of the sky, landing hard.
His followers rushed to defend him, while the child wavered uncertainly. No matter; he could use the six Souls here and now to-
He locked eyes with the anomaly, and suddenly the Souls vanished. Even the shimmering inconsistency of The Void ceased to be, and he was alone in a dense blackness.
“No!” he cried out, furious and horrified, “What have you done?! What-”
His hand vanished at the elbow, and he recoiled, stunned, as it disintegrated into black fluid.
The anomaly stood before him, holding the Six Souls, his followers insensate, laid out around them. As he watched, their souls cracked apart and shattered. Unable to die, they writhed in pain, then fell into a deeper, darker layer of The Void.
“This can end easily, Gaster.” The anomaly told him, their voice unusually deep, as if coming up from a well, “Or not. Your call.”
This could not end in this way! He would not suffer it!
“Die, you wretch!” Gaster snarled, shooting a bone spear from his palm even as the Souls discharged their power into him at its command, laying him low.
Many things happened without his awareness or input. The anomaly, struck by his attack, wavered, but ultimately recovered, while he was brought down, aware but unable to Act, and unable to die.
“I’ll return these to where they rightfully belong.” They told him, their voice pained, “So the Timeline can proceed as planned. Then…they will be free, at least.”
“Why…have you done this?” he asked them, struggling for breath, “We only...wanted to return.”
They lowered their mask from their face, and he noted the features of a Dreemurr. They frowned, thoughtful, “At what cost? Would you have freed Monsters when you arrived there…or used this power for your own selfish ends? The needs of the many, Gaster…not the needs of the few. That must be what drives us.”
Reaching out with a hand, they effortlessly took hold of him and dragged him up, hauling him over their shoulder, “Well…you won’t be here anymore, at least. There’s that.”
The anomaly turned to the Monster child, which had opted not to involve herself in the Fight.
“You there. Girl.”
She blinked, trembling visibly, “W-what?”
“What’s your name?”
“Goner? Alright. Wait here. I will return in a moment, once I return these Souls. There’s a place I want to take you.”
“N-no! Please, I…-”
“It’s alright.” They assured her, suddenly gentle, “You’ll like it. I promise. There’s someone there who…can take care of you. It wouldn’t be right to leave you here alone.”
Still afraid, she nodded, a glimmer of hope returning, “Who are you?”
They considered that a moment, then, “Call me Azazel. Azazel Dreemurr.”
With his prisoner and Goner in tow, the Six Souls now safely back with the Asgore of that Timeline, Asriel made his way into The Omega Timeline, a little sanctuary set aside in The Anti-Void; a space of many small dimensions otherwise separated from the rest. Though it was impossible to do so uninvited, anyone who stumbled onto the place would find themselves in an unassuming little town by a body of water.
Unassuming, of course, if one failed to notice the blank, featureless white sky or the fact that space just seemed to…end, if one went far enough. The town, about the size of Newer Home or possibly a little bigger, was situated on an elevated plateau that sloped down to the water, which took up the space of a small lake before emptying endlessly into an abyss at the end of the horizon. An abyss which, likewise, was all that there was at the opposite end of the plateau. All that was existed in a sort of bubble, a bubble not even the place’s founder truly understood the nature of.
Core, an alternate version of Frisk that had fallen into The Core much as Gaster had, had been the first to find it, scattered across time and space but retaining their Determination and the abilities it bestowed. They had no idea who created this place, but stewarding an otherwise unreachable pocket dimension certainly had its benefits. Through their invitation other beings could reach it, no matter what Alternate Universe they hailed from. Even Asriel himself, lacking any true dimension-hopping abilities of his own, had no issue reaching it once the invitation had been issued.
He found them there waiting for him, expectant. They were nearly identical to Frisk in a physiological sense, but the processes that had made them this way were apparent; they had no color anywhere on their body or clothing, and had blank eyes like empty sockets. Much like Goner and the Gaster followers, actually.
They were among the only ones here who referred to each other by their given names. In addition to a prison for those with Determination that caused trouble, it was also a refuge for victims of such; there were plenty of Frisks, Asriels, Sans’, and so on, and it was easier if most used nicknames. As the only Fear Soul Asriel, he usually went by Azazel, or Bête No-Asriel.
They looked down at his burden, then at the new guest, and Asriel gestured helplessly, “Another one, Frisk. That’s how many this month alone?”
Core shrugged, “Gasters have been oddly active lately. I’m not sure why yet.”
“That whole seeing everything not all its cracked up to be?”
His humor didn’t have the intended effect. Core looked frustrated, those empty sockets narrowing, “I can see what each of them are doing, Asriel; experiments. Or revolutions. I just don’t understand how it all fits together.”
He held out his hands, “Easy…just making light, is all. You look tired.”
“I don’t sleep.”
“Maybe just laying around might help. Ask a Sans; they’re good for that.”
Asriel started, as a Sans indeed blinked into existence beside him, one eye fixed on Gaster, “Another one, huh? Welp, I’ll put ’em with the others.”
Taking hold of the restrained Gaster, Sans teleported away, leaving a half-eaten taco on the floor. Sighing, Asriel picked it up, “No, by all means. Allow me.”
“Going to eat it like that handpie Jessamine left on the table in the Gastholme timeline?”
“I was hungry!” he protested, not questioning how they knew about that; while they could manifest a body, they were in fact present throughout time and space, able to see just about everything. He didn’t envy that kind of perspective; indeed, it frightened him.
“You did look pretty hungry.” They said, seeming a little more at ease, “And I imagine your handpies are delicious.”
“I’ll try and make one for next time.”
“I don’t eat.”
“You've got a mouth. You can still taste?”
They considered that for a moment, then, “I’m not sure.”
He laughed, “Then I’ll bring one.”
Returning their attention to Goner, who’d thus far cowered behind him in silence, Core smiled gently, “Hello. We have not met; I am Frisk. Although most here refer to me as Core. What is your name?”
“It is nice to meet you, Goner.” They replied, holding out a hand, “Welcome to The Omega Timeline. This all must feel strange and frightening, but I assure you that you will find this place very welcoming. While you cannot return to your native dimension as you are…I hope you will come to call this place your home.”
Goner swallowed, nervous, but allowed them to place a hand on her, “I…umm, was really hoping to see my brother again. But…this place is definitely nicer than The Void. And I didn’t like being with the others. They weren’t…very nice. Are the people here nice?”
“They are people.” Core replied simply, “You will experience a bit of everything, I imagine. I can show you around in a moment. First…”
They looked back to him, expectant. There must have been something else going on.
“Anything else before I go?”
“Yes…” they said, looking out towards the lake, “…There is…one thing.”
Asriel nodded, sadly, his mind already jumping to conclusions, “Not a talker, this one?”
“She’s been here for two days…hasn’t said a word.” Core told him, “I…don’t know her type well enough to try myself, and she won’t let anyone near her…could you try?”
“Sure thing, Frisk.” He assured them, tousling their hair playfully as he started towards the lake, “Wish me luck.”
There wasn’t a rush of air or a pop like when a Sans teleported; Core just stopped being there. Still, he sensed it as they went somewhere else, likely to help that Sans put Gaster in a cell below. There was a lower level inside the plateau, intended for those who were too dangerous to allow at ground level.
Trapped in The Underground for all his childhood, he didn’t envy them being stuck in an even smaller cavern…but it was certainly better than handing them over to Error…
Shuddering, Asriel passed a few familiar faces, a few unfamiliar familiar faces, sharing a knowing smile or nod with one or another. As a Caretaker of The Omega Timeline, one of a choice few, he was well respected here, and tried to meet as many of the town’s residents as he could.
Though not all of them welcomed his presence; other Asriels had destroyed entire Timelines, after all. More than a few…
The town itself wasn’t Core’s creation; refugees had brought supplies, or even entire buildings, with them. Some were large, others small and humble. Some with sloping roofs, or looming spires, or glass domes. The varying colors, styles, and materials gave everything a hodgepodge, cobbled-together look, but he enjoyed the chaos of it. It felt genuine…it felt…precious. Some of these structures might be all that remained of entire worlds, and all that some had to remember of what they’d lost.
He passed a statue nearly identical to the one in Waterfall, and his hand traveled unbidden to the locket that hung from his neck; his gift to Chara, which had eventually found its way back to him. Inside was a little music box a Napstablook had made for him, which played the same song the one inside the statue did.
Setting it back against his chest, Asriel gulped, making his way out to the dock. There was a rowboat tethered to a post, and a narrow boardwalk for residents and visitors to enjoy the lake. He found her there, feet off the edge and dangling over the dark waters. Her back was turned to him.
Even from here she stirred memories in him; instead of the red fabrics the Gastholme version of her had favored, she was wearing an elegant gown of green with gold trim, a chain circlet around her hair, which flowed down past her waist.
She was…so beautiful… That empty hole in his heart ached, which had formed and then widened when she’d been taken from him in two different Timelines, both to poison, no less.
Asriel stepped a little more loudly than he usually did, announcing his presence. When she didn’t react other than her shoulders tensing, he sat down about four paces away, sighing as he struggled with his prosthetic. He’d certainly gotten used to it in the time since the aftermath of his Fight with Betty, but the stump ached abominably whenever he sat up or down. He assumed that was just a permanent aspect of that type of wound.
He stared out at the lake, exhaling deeply, taking in the scent of the place. Despite the odd nature of it, it remained a natural lake, with a forest of seaweed and kelp that was ripe with fish, and all the smells indicative.
“Always liked this spot, myself.” He said aloud, distant, “There’s nothing like a quiet afternoon fishing. Never actually caught any big enough to eat, but…you know…”
She didn’t say anything. From this angle he couldn’t see her eyes under the bangs, and couldn’t read her expression, either.
Nothing for it, he sat there for a while, startling and hastily turning off his phone as it began to ring. A little invention made by a particular Alphys that transcended Alternate Timelines or even Alternate Universes. Anyone from any dimension could reach him on it. Usually, that was how Ink contacted him with news of a new assignment.
Mom was asking him if he’d be there for dinner, he imagined. It could wait.
The silence began to stretch again, interrupted by the occasional passer-by enjoying the lake. That was alright; she could take all the time she wanted. He’d learned long ago to be patient.
“What do you want?” she asked, her voice flat and angry. It stung a little, but he let it go.
“A million bucks. An eighth season for my favorite show. World peace. Um….”
That seemed to catch her off guard. She looked away, covering the faintest shadow of a smirk with her hand, “That wasn’t what I meant.”
They both looked back out to the lake, and he swirled an eddy with the tip of his big toe, “I wanted to help, if I could. You…won’t talk to anyone. I thought maybe you’d talk to me.”
“You’re not him.”
Nodding sadly, he conceded, “True, but I’m an Asriel. Asriels and Charas can usually get along.”
She didn’t reply, so he decided to keep the dialogue going on his own.
“I go by Azazel, nowadays…” he explained, shrugging, “But I also answer to Asriel. Or Bête No-Asriel, if I’m feeling cheeky.”
“Or…” he added, grinning mischievously, letting a bit of his power flow out and dimming the light around them, “The Crimson Reaper or the Angel of Death if I’m not.”
That seemed to catch her off guard, her smirk became a smile, then she started laughing. She glanced his way, in disbelief, and he caught a flicker of her eyes under the bangs before she hastily looked away; one red, the other black with a white pupil, “The Crimson Reaper? Are you kidding me? You’re not even red!”
“C’mon, it’s a cool-sounding name.”
“Your eyes and Soul are pink, though.”
“Whatever!” he snapped, though it was in good humor, “Amaranth Reaper doesn’t exactly have the same ring to it, now does it? Or Fuchsia Reaper? Name something pink that sounds intimidating! Go on, I’ll wait.”
A little bit at a time, he wore her down. Her laughter echoed across the lake as she tried in vain to cover it with her hand. He caught infrequent glimpses of her face, and frowned sadly; her eyes had dark circles under them, with puffy, inflamed eyelids. She’d worn some kind of makeup, but most of it had run off.
He had a few ideas on what might have brought her here…and none of them were good. He made sure to keep his thoughts from showing; he knew feeling sorry would just make her angry.
“I’ve got nothing.” She confessed, finally looking up fully, “So, then, Azazel…I’m talking now. You happy?”
“Getting there.” He replied, “Banter aside, I want to ask…how you’re settling in here.”
Her expression darkened, and she looked away a moment, but didn’t recede back into her armor, “It’s…a safe place. Away from him.”
“Gaster.” She replied, and it sounded like a curse, “Of all the people I never wanted to see again that show up here…I was relieved to find that Gaster isn’t among them. Not in any form. Seems like he’d been forced into The Void or destroyed in almost every Timeline.”
“Yeah.” Asriel replied, “Honestly, the less I see of that one, the better.”
“You worked with him though, for a while there.”
It wasn’t a question. It was an accusation.
He looked back to find her scowling, and how that look sent him back. They hadn’t fought much as children, mostly because he'd always followed her lead after she’d shown him who was in charge, but the few Fights they'd had were ugly for sure.
““Worked with” isn’t the way I’d put it.” he explained, “More, “Tricked me and I had to work around him”.”
That seemed to calm her, though her eyes closed over anyway, “Yeah. I know all about that. A pair of idiots, the two of us, huh?”
He stirred his toe in the water some more, sighing, “And just when I’d thought I was through with him, here I am, sent again and again through the infinite Timelines to Fight him some more. It’s…gods, it exhausting.”
She nodded, grim, “Yeah. They talk about you often. Some kind of guardian angel, fixing Timelines to prevent more people from ending up here.”
“It suits you.”
He blinked, appraising her curiously, “Huh?”
“Being an angel.” Chara explained, looking back to him meaningfully, “It suits you.”
He faltered, a bit squeamish at that, but she didn’t relent, “It does, Azzy.”
“…You uh…I’m not really…the same Asriel you knew, maybe.”
She took his in garb; the black armor made for him as Gaster’s Royal Assassin, and didn’t even blink, “Yeah you are; you’re a dork, just like him. I know how the story went; I’d thought of telling you about The Plan, too, you know. I…know what happens when I did. What happened to you. And…what you ended up doing…”
Too much to put into words; The Surface…Flowey…trying to…-
He didn’t voice it, but then he tensed, at the feeling of Chara’s hand in his.
She smirked as he looked back to her, “Now who’s getting who to talk, huh? You’re terrible at this.”
Snorting, he raised an eyebrow, “You’re talking, so am I really? Well…fair enough, then. I’m alright.”
“You, um…got to know two Charas in your Timeline, right? The one that split?”
“What…happened to the other one?”
“She…” he paused, thinking, “She was a queen to Humans and Monsters. The fiercest warrior I’ve ever seen. Did a real number on me, that’s for sure.”
He pulled off his gauntlets and showed her the line across the backs of his forearms. Unlike the scar on his chest, which was jagged and uneven, the one she’d left was clean, precise. As if a scalpel had made it.
She didn’t seem to like that, “I…did that to you?”
“She didn’t know who I was. And I had come along making a fool of myself, stirring the pot, so to speak. We, umm…got along better after that. We were sparring partners, and I indentured myself as her royal guard.”
Whistling at that, Chara looked away, “Only one who ever kept up with me was Undyne. She roughed you up often, didn’t she?”
It was a strange and pleasant sensation, trading memories with an alternate version of someone he knew. Like meeting an old friend and a new one all in one. And to Chara, for him, it made talking all the easier. He spoke freely…too freely.
“What happened to her?” Chara asked, a glimmer of hope in her eye, that was quickly dashed at his expression.
“…Oh. I’m sorry.”
“It…is what it is. I knew her…you…again, for a little while. It was more than I could ever expect or hope for.”
“Did you two…?”
Chara faltered after that, swallowing. He nodded, “And you? Did you and…Asriel, ever…?”
He set a hand on her shoulder. It felt obscene, somehow, but then she leaned over into him, trembling, “I just…I don’t…”
The trembling grew worse, “I can’t…”
Asriel rested his chin over her head, “I know. I loved her…I’d never seen her in that light before, but gods, how I’d loved her. We even managed to…”
That was too much, and suddenly he knew exactly how her story had gone as she wept in his arms.
Asriel forced down the lump in his throat. He’d been thinking of that exact name, in those dark, dark moments in his life when he considered the child Sigeric had killed. Chariel if it had been a boy…Ashara if it had been a girl…
He’d inherited his inability to originally name things from Dad, it seemed.
He said no more, and together they sat by the lake with their respective ghosts.
If nothing else, The Omega Timeline was the perfect place for people with ghosts...