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The Multiversal Villain's Self-Saving System

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The glowing screen illuminates your face as you scroll down the page you’re reading. You’re eating chips, posture slouched, an elbow leaning on the table as you stare at the screen, eyes half-focused and drooping with sleepiness. The sound of your mouse and the crunch of the chips in your mouth are the only thing you can hear. 

 

It’s 3 a.m. Outside, the sky is dark, the stars shining bright. There are no cars on the road outside. The city is eerily silent and shrouded in black. Your apartment is one of the few sources of light, a pale yellow glow leaking out of your windows onto the surroundings.

 

Your room is a haphazard mess. The bed is decorated by tangled sheets, the carpet floor stained with various liquids that had accumulated over time, making it look like a patch of mold. Posters litter the wall, creating a cacophony of color that looked decent during the day but have become unnatural and ominous against the pale light of your desk lamp.

 

At a time like this, you should be asleep. Or studying for that math test you have tomorrow.

 

Except, you’re determined to finish the story before dawn breaks. You started it a week ago.

Chronicles of the Multiverse, a web novel about good and evil skeletons who fight each other in the multiverse. The plot?

 

A skeleton named Dream was turned to stone but restored to a skeleton by two other skeletons, Ink and Blue. He wakes with no memories about how he got there or why he was stone. Mysterious protagonist background, check.

 

Ink and Blue are fighting against Error, Nightmare, and Nightmare’s gang. Ink and Blue promote positivity and creation, while Error and Nightmare promote destruction and negativity. So far, they have been losing. Dream decides to join them. Cliche struggle between good and evil, check.

 

The two sides fight for a while. There are ups and downs for the protagonist, battles against evil, conflicts between Ink and Blue and Dream, who have named themselves the ‘Stars’. The novel drags on for a while, slowly building tension.

Then suddenly Nightmare’s gang gains a new member, Cross. Except Cross doesn’t seem to like killing or spreading negativity. Although, their first battle with him is a curb-stomp battle. They are quickly overpowered. The next time they fight, despite extensive planning against their stronger enemy, Dream is captured. Plot twist, check.

 

When Dream is captured, they talk. Dream learns that Cross dislikes Nightmare, who wanted to make a killing tool out of him after seeing his power and subjected him to abuse from others of the gang to keep him controlled. Dream comforts Cross, and over time, as they endure Nightmare’s abuse together, they grow close. Cross betrays Nightmare and helps him escape, but is unable to escape himself. Dream swears to help Cross. Potential protagonist love interest, check.

 

The next time they meet is on the battlefield, and Nightmare tries to force Cross to kill Dream. Cross rebels and manages to defeat Nightmare’s gang.  He joins the Stars. Together, they try to kill Nightmare and Error.

 

You’re now on the one hundred and twenty-fourth chapter , which is also the end of it. . .

 

Lowering his bow, Dream watched as Nightmare, his longtime enemy, the king of negativity who had tried to conquer the multiverse, the all-powerful lord of darkness, who hurt Cross, melted away into ashes. Ashes that crumbled into dust in the wind.

 

There was a thud behind him. Dream turned and saw Ink, panting and exhausted but unharmed, eyelights bright. It was the only confirmation Dream needed that the destroyer was no more.

 

He turned back to their enemies. A pile of dust lay where Killer had been. Cross’s knife is speckled with blood as he whirls toward the rest of the enemy, Blue besides him. They clash with Dust and Horror, and Ink and Dream hurry over to help. Soon, they are dust as well.

 

The multiverse is finally free from Nightmare. Free from Error. Blue lifts a fist in victory, raising his voice in a cheer. Ink smiles softly. Dream wants to join them, but Cross seems somber, so he goes and puts a reassuring hand on his shoulder. 

 

They watch as the sun rises.

 

It’s the dawn of a new age. One without fear, destruction, or negativity.

 

A new future, and a bright one.

 

--

End.

 

You slam your fist on the table, crumbs spraying out of your mouth. Scrolling all the way down you click on the comment box and start typing, fingers punching the keyboard ferociously.

 

This story’s so stupid!

Let’s see…

There’s absolutely no backstory. We don’t know where Nightmare came from, or Error, or Ink. Hell, we don’t even know where Dream came from, and he’s the protagonist! All we know is that he came from a stone statue and emerged with no memories, and somehow is good at archery despite having never practiced. Even worse, even though he wonders who he was, he never finds out, or tries to find out. Instead, he just goes and joins Ink and Blue and their evil-fighting band! As for the others, all that’s written about them is the universe they came from! There’s nothing about what happened in that universe. Why does Horror have a hole in his head? Why does the murder time trio seem so similar to each other? Why are Error and Nightmare and Ink and Dream the way they are, and have the abilities they have? Where are the answers? There are so many loose ends!

 

Also, there’s no clear motive for Nightmare or Error or ...anyone. Why do they destroy and spread negativity? While Error might be insane, Nightmare clearly isn’t. Such one-dimensional villains. Why does Nightmare’s gang still follow Nightmare when Nightmare’s so cruel to them?

 

I’ve wasted my time reading this piece of trash.

 

You click ‘post' with little hesitation. Immediately you are drowned under a barrage of replies.

 

Trash? This is amazing!

 

What do you mean? The plot was flawless!

 

If this novel was so horrible, why have you kept reading it?

 

You dig your fingernails into the desk, scratching lines across the wood. Grabbing another handful of chips, you bite into them ferociously before typing,

 

How are you all so stupid? Yes, the plot has some good points, but there are too many loose ends and plot holes for it to be good.

 

A stupid pen writes stupid words, read by stupid readers. This is a stupid book, written by a stupid author.

 

You jam your finger down on the mouse, clicking ‘post’.

 

The comment thread explodes. As you read them, your face reddens in anger.

 

And then you choke.

 

You gasp for air as pain rings through your airway, a piece of the chips you were eating lodged in your throat. You reach for your phone, gasping for air, but your fingers fall short. You slump forward, face meeting the keyboard with a clack. Everything turns black.

 

And then you hear a mechanical voice. Monotone and genderless, neither old or young.

 

[Activation Code: Stupid book, Stupid author, Stupid pen, Stupid words...Stupid book, Stupid author, Stupid pen, Stupid words…]

 

[Automatically triggering system...]

 

The voice echoes through the empty space.

 

[Activation Complete. Creating Account...]

 

[Welcome to the system. We wish to provide you with the experience you seek, and give you a chance to transform this piece of stupid writing into a high-end classic. Please stay still as we send you where you need to be. We wish you the best. Good Luck.]

 

[Transmigrating…]

 

“... Boss. Boss?”

 

A different voice speaks, and as time passes it grows more clear.

 

“Boss, are you awake?”

 

You try to open your eyes. Immediately, you notice something is wrong. You can’t open your right eye. Hell, you can’t feel your right eye. And when you open your left eye, you’re staring up and a stone ceiling, not the wood of your apartment.

 

You take deep breaths, trying to calm yourself as you take note of yourself. You’re lying on what seems to be a bed. You can feel something—somethings on your back, and you feel...cold. You’re covered in… black goop?

 

You turn your head to the side. And you freeze.

 

To the right is a skeleton. He is smiling, and he has no eyelights, with black liquid oozing out of his eye sockets instead. A red and black target hovers over his chest. The skeleton shifts uncomfortably, smile becoming a grim line. “Boss?”

 

“Where am I?’ you ask, nervous. Who is this skeleton, and why is he calling you Boss?

 

“You’re… back at the castle, Boss. Back at our base.”

 

Castle? Base?

 

Why… Why does this skeleton seem so familiar?

 

Skeleton…Boss… Novel…

 

“Killer?” You exclaim, shocked.

 

Killer straightened to attention. “Yes Boss?”

 

“What… What happened?” you asked, more to yourself than anything. Killer interprets this as a question to him.

 

“You… you passed out. After we attacked Fellswap, we came back and you just… passed out. Is Boss in need of anything?”

 

“I… can you please get out of my room?”

 

“Yes, Boss.” If he notices your unusual behavior, he doesn’t comment. Straightening, he bows, then turns to the left and walks out the room, closing the door behind him and leaving you to mull.

 

What the hell just happened?

 

Ding.

 

You flinch as the sound of a chime rings through your mind. The voice is back

 

[Account successfully created. Binding your role: Leader of the Dark Sanses, Guardian of Negativity, King of Darkness, ‘Nightmare Sans’. Affiliation: Evil. Points: 100]

 

Points? You think, confused. What...What just happened?

 

[You initiated execution of the system. You are associated with and bound to the account ‘Nightmare Sans’]

 

[As the plot progresses, a number of opportunities to gain points will be opened. Please make sure your points do not drop below zero. Should your points drop below zero, your account and existence in the undertale multiverse will be terminated.]

 

You lie back, trying to process what had happened.

 

Transmigrating, the system had said earlier. So that meant…

Somehow, you had been transported to the Undertale Multiverse. And been put in Nightmare’s body. Nightmare, who had been killed off by Dream and Cross at the end of the story.

 

Great. Just Great.

 

How could you alleviate your fate?

 

You could escape. Hide away in a random Au, and—

 

An alarm rang through your head, loud and piercing. You bring a goopy hand to your forehead, clutching it as your head rings from the sound.

 

[Warning! Warning! Warning! If you follow through with your plan, points will be deducted as punishment]

 

What? Why?

 

[You are in tutorial. Out of character function freeze is activated. You must complete tutorial before functions will be unfrozen. Any actions out of character that conflict with the original ‘Nightmare Sans’ will result in points being deducted.]

 

So, I have to act like Nightmare Sans?

 

[Correct.]

 

Silently you curse the system. If that’s the case, then you’ll have to try and complete tutorial as fast as possible. But first…

 

You sit up, stretching, getting used to the feeling of four tentacles on your back. You look around, surveying your surroundings. You’re in a candle lit bedroom, light reflected off of the shiny dark stones in the floors, wall, and ceiling. The bed is simple, black. The cabinets nearby are all made of a dark wood. To the right is a bookshelf. Scooching off the bed, you put on sandals and walk closer to examine its contents. A Guide to the Undertale Multiverse, one of them reads. You’d have to check that out later; maybe it’d have something useful.

 

Killer said that it was right after the battle of Fellswap. If you remembered correctly, Fellswap happened a few chapters before Cross was introduced. The book never stated exactly when or where Nightmare found Cross. If Cross hadn’t been found yet, you could avoid recruiting him, or kill him on sight. That way, you’d definitely survive. After all, the Dark Sanses had been winning until Cross betrayed them.

 

But if Cross had already been recruited, you’d have to somehow win him to your side. You couldn’t kill him; Nightmare had considered Cross too powerful of an ally to kill, so killing him would be OOC. But if you could somehow win his favor… 

 

None of the Stars would be able to kill you, because Cross was just that powerful.

 

Your gaze is drawn to the dark doorway. There are few hints to where the hall behind it leads. If only you had a way to observe without being caught, to see without being seen… 

 

Wait. Nightmare— you— had powers. One of them was reading emotional auras. Maybe…

 

Closing your eyes, you concentrate, trying to access your powers. After a few minutes, you feel something.

 

Down the hall, to the right, there were five presences. That meant Cross had joined, unless Nightmare had some secret friend not written in the novel. Of the skeletons, one was emotionless, probably Killer, considering how he had acted when you woke up. Two were wild, bouncing back and forth from anger to sadness to guilt to happiness to apathy… you guessed they were probably insane. That would fit Horror and Dust. One was afraid, curious, confused, and angry. Luckily, Cross wasn’t too angry, and, interestingly, the anger wasn’t directed toward you but to his companions. Lastly, you could feel impatience and annoyance radiating from the last skeleton. Impatience and annoyance toward you. Error. You shiver slightly at the thought of the other big bad of the story. Error, who was as powerful as Nightmare you were. You’d have to watch out for him.

 

Organizing yourself, you step into the hall and walk toward them. A few seconds later, the hall opens into a large, airy chamber with high ceilings. To your right is a large throne elevated on stone made of dark ebony. It is angular and elegant, simple and beautiful at the same time.

 

As you walk in the others turn to you expectantly. Horror, Dust, and Killer bow. Cross dips his head respectfully and Error just looked annoyed.

 

Let’s get this party started, you think. There were few snippets about the Dark Sanses and their evil meetings and planning, but enough that you knew how it worked. You ascend the steps, holding your head high, then turn and sit. Turning your head to look at Dust, who had the role of a spy within Nightmare’s your group, you ask, careful to keep your tone neutral, “Anything worth mentioning recently?” Recently, while you were asleep.

 

You can feel Dust’s emotions, which were the most unstable of the group, settle and still under your pressure, turning into nervousness and a light fear. “N-no,” he stammers, and you feel bursts of amusement from the other Sanses, hear the light hidden snickers from Horror and Error. Killer, however, stays strangely impassive and emotionless, and Cross seems… confused?

 

Thinking on this and your earlier read of Cross’s emotions, you come to the conclusion that Cross hasn’t been with Nightmare you for long. Which is definitely good, since it means he doesn’t hate you or want you dead. Yet.

 

Dust’s face has turned slightly purple, and he shrinks into his hood under your gaze. “Nothing unusual has happened recently,” he elaborates. “There’s no sign of any of the Star Sanses in any of the AUs, dead or alive.”

 

“I haven’t sensed anything, either,” Error drawls, leaning back against a pillar in a relaxed position. “I told you that attacking Fellswap was a good idea. After scaring them off, they won’t show up for a while, and we can rest for that time.”

 

Killer’s right hand fiddles with a knife, and he refuses to meet Error’s eyes as he says, “They could be planning something. We have to be vigilant. I say we attack an AU soon, to test them.”

 

Error glares, and you feel his anger at being contradicted. “Planning something? Let’s see, Blue is a foolish and naive ball of positivity, Ink is a forgetful and wild creator who seems to have dementia half of the time, and Dream? Dream’s only one person, with so few allies when we literally outnumber them two to one, and he’s almost foolish as Blue.”

 

Dust raised his head quietly “B-but a few weeks ago they set a trap for you and you almost got caught. I’d say that they can plan things.”

 

Error whirled toward Dust angrily and starts cursing him. “You—”

 

You feel a spark of emotion from Killer. Directing your powers toward him, you feel his amusement at the situation. You plunge deeper and almost gasp at the amount of suppressed emotion. Hate, guilt, fear… they’re overwhelmingly negative.

 

You turn your focus back to the arguing pair. Error is aggressive and lashes out quickly, his points sharp, wild, and accusatory.  Dust is more defensive, basing his argument on solid facts. Slowly the argument turns from what to do to which of them is more foolish. They begin throwing insults at one another. Cross is standing off to the side, seemingly torn about what to do. Killer’s amusement has only grown. You can read his emotions better now, and the buried ones beneath it as well. In his left eye socket, a small pinprick of light has grown.

 

Beep.

 

A sudden sound interrupts your thoughts. It’s the system, again.

 

[10 points deducted. OOC penalty. 90 points remaining.]

 

OOC? You think, outraged. Haven’t I been doing a good job at this whole ‘evil’ thing?

 

[Nightmare would not have let such pointless arguing go on so long, and he would have reverted Killer into his emotionless state. 10 more points will be deducted if the situation is not resolved.]

 

You look closer, and you see that the top of Killer’s soul has sharpened to a point, just like the top of an upside-down heart.

 

Strange. Chronicles of the Multiverse never said anything about Killer’s soul. Then again, Chronicles of the Multiverse was filled with plot holes, so it was natural there were some things— well, a lot of things— that you didn’t know.

 

Which led to a problem. You had no idea how Nightmare kept Killer emotionless. Hell, you didn’t even know Killer was emotionless. 

 

However, you did know that a portion of Nightmare’s powers were emotion-related. So maybe… 

You send a wisp of your magic toward Killer, all the while marveling how easy it is. Killer’s soul reverts back to normal.

 

Now for Dust and Error…

You slam your hands on the sides of your throne dramatically and stand up, the tentacles on your back making you look even more threatening. “Stop this pointless arguing, you idiots! You’re getting nowhere!”

 

Dust and Error quieted, glaring at each other. Both had gotten pretty riled up, and you could feel their anger at each other. 

 

“Now…” you thought a bit. This was your chance to have fun with the plot a bit. “Cross,” you say, turning to him menacingly. You feel his fear grow, even though he hides it well. “Yes, Boss?”

 

“What do you think we should do?”

 

It is clear that Cross thinks through his answer. When he speaks, his words are measured. “As a former guard, I believe that we do have to be vigilant with the Stars.”

 

You smile, trying to mimic the snake’s grin you believe Nightmare would use. “Then what do you suppose we do?”

 

“Stay on guard and set up an attack on an AU, not to actually fight but probe at their intentions.”

 

“Hm.” You turn from Cross and walk away. “I agree. Killer, prepare for an attack in three days. Dust, keep spying on the Stars until then. Meeting adjourned.” As you walk off, you can feel Error’s outrage and annoyance toward you. You smirk.

 

A mechanical voice echoes through your skull. 

[5 points earned for in-character acting. Good job!]

[Quest: Attack on Mafiatale. Quest will be initiated in three days]

Quest? You think. This is like an RPG. Interesting.

As you make your way to your room, you mull over all that’s happened recently. In the blink of an eye, you’ve gone from a college student to the ruler of darkness. It’s only been a few hours since you were sitting in front of your computer, reading. Or at least, it feels that way.

 

You’ve arrived outside your room and your hand goes to the door handle. But before you can open the door Error appears behind you. You turn, tentacles swishing behind you. “What do you want, Error?” you say, making your voice sound as cold as you can.

 

Error fiddles with his fingers. “You’re acting weirdly today, Nightmare.”

 

You raise an eyebrow “Oh?”

“You let Dust and I argue,” he points out. “And you let Killer regain some emotion. That’s never happened before.”

 

Damn. Error was observant.

 

“So, what’s up with you?”

 

You try to keep yourself from trembling under Error’s pressing gaze. The glitches surrounding him make him seem bigger than he actually is. 

 

“Nothing that should concern you,” you say coldly. You open the door and slam it behind you, falling back onto your bed as you feel Error’s presence vanish. It’s been a long day. Closing your eyes, you fall asleep.