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The False Savior-A Jumpchain Snippet

Apr 14th, 2015
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  1. The False Savior: A Jumpchain snippet
  2.  
  3. How does a god perceive the world? The answer cannot be adequately explained in most mortal languages. Perhaps the best way to conceptualize it is to compare the difference between a deep sea invertebrate that has never needed to evolve senses beyond primitive chemical receptors, and a human in peak physical condition-but that still doesn’t come close to expressing how the varied means of perception mingle and accrete information to create something far greater than the sum of its parts.
  4.  
  5. The energy pattern known as Anon pondered the question in an unusually quiet part of his collective consciousness, as the rest of him grappled with the simultaneous problems of modifying his City of Heaven to be sufficiently reinforced against encroaching monsters, stabilizing the artificial sun he’d created earlier to both attract survivors and maintain stable melanin rates, modifying the digital skillset downloading protocols to account for local metaphysics and a dozen other problems. Millions of minds parsed and multitasked to an unfathomable degree, as he focused on working on the task at hand within Bradeline’s Well.
  6.  
  7. Time passed. Anon remained simultaneously concentrated on the magical construct surrounded by arcane digital screens-it looked something like a stack of miniature galaxies in the rough shape of a vortex-and distracted by a number of other concerns remotely handled by living spells.
  8.  
  9. The wasteland was flat and barren as far as the eye could see, colored like a monochrome photograph. Above, passing clouds blocked all sunlight while casting darker shadows. Yet the realm seemed dimly lit, as if by moonlight. The portal’s vigil continued.
  10.  
  11. Finally, the construct was finished. Satisfied, Anon gestured, and watched the galaxies unfold rapidly-then collapse into a swirling blitz of stars. Presently stars seemed to appear from beyond the clouds-but Anon knew they were the souls of the unclaimed dead being pulled from Chaos here by the ritual he’d enacted.
  12.  
  13. Someone coughed behind him.
  14.  
  15. “We weren’t sure if this would work” he confessed “but it seems antimatter temporal principle works both ways. Chaos doesn’t quite count as a true afterlife, if something as subtle as a makeshift Remembrance of Time and a spiritual beacon can pull them back through. Something the matter?”
  16.  
  17. He didn’t need to turn around. Elodie’s life energy was a supernova in the land of the dead. Still for the sake of propriety the humanoid avatar turned to face one of his oldest and most powerful companions. All around him, a slight shimmer where his nanoswarm and corruptive influence fed off each others’ power in a positive feedback loop of time-space distortions. His avatar flickered with shapes and patterns, an evanescent window into the true nature of what he was.
  18.  
  19. “Just making sure you don’t wear yourself out again, Anon. The human race is counting on you, after all”. Wry smile. Waist length hair, power armor, folded arms. The details are captured in an instant, cross-analyzed a million times over, compared to previous behavior and fed into the path to victory to determine the optimum path of communicating to achieve an ends.
  20.  
  21. Unbidden, one image springs to mind: Elodie furious, holding a young man-himself-in motorcycle leather and helmet-himself-up against a wall, shouting at him. A blade of Lumen magic pointed at his throat. In the background, the king of England and the hitman watching, unable and unwillling to interfere.
  22.  
  23. What’s wrong with you, she’d said. You’re insane. You’re fucking evil
  24.  
  25. Then finish it, he’d replied. End my journey here and now. It is your right
  26.  
  27. “That is unlikely” He masterfully prevents any emotion apart from detached, clinical certainty from escaping his visage. “We subsist on despair, and this realm reeks of it. Even without partaking we are empowered constantly from the emotional byproducts”
  28.  
  29. “I’m glad you haven’t, by the way. I was worried you’d fallen off the bandwagon. After that business in Equestria, and how you dealt with the Diamond Overlords”
  30.  
  31. “It was purely a scientific endeavor, and had the locals cooperated violence wouldn’t have been necessary”
  32.  
  33. “I’m just glad you didn’t side with them” Elodie tossed him a datapad. “I’ve finished adapting the Nova Chrysalia Rejuvenation Project as per your recommendations. Carbon nanotube skeletal weave, redundant organs, self sustaining physiology. Inborn MO organs. Kudos to Fran figuring out how all this stuff works by herself”
  34.  
  35. “Fran does good work” he replied absentmindedly. Something occurred “Ah-she didn’t include any panda DNA at any point, did she?”
  36.  
  37. “Good news? Nope. Bad news?” Elodie looked worried. “She /did/ mention taking samples of Pandascape for research into fleshmetal synthesis”
  38.  
  39. “Dear Jump-Chan in jumpspace” Anon quickly scanned the future for any potential catastrophes this could bring about, and was greatly disturbed. “But-we suppose it’s only fair to prepare for the worst. Time is on our side, and preparation is our greatest weapon. That blind idiot god’s retaliation is as predictable as it is asinine”
  40.  
  41. “How do you mean? Aren’t you even a little worried about challenging God?”
  42.  
  43. “Do you recall our second adventure in this land?” By now the vortex had diminished to a two dimensional image of a galaxy swirling about the ground, all the while souls rained down from the heavens.
  44.  
  45. Anon strode back through the portal, Elodie in tow. They looked down from the marble parapets at the sprawling, ever-expanding City of Heaven. To the east a bridge marked where the structure connected to Elodie’s own divine city-both Elodie and Anon felt Nova Dominatus’ transcendent energies humming through the infrastructure.
  46.  
  47. “All the duplicates? It is his way of engaging and testing what he does not understand. He creates an artificial replica, sends it to destroy what he despises and tries to derive something of value from the results. And because he thinks himself in the right, he will not exert his full strength until it is the only option left to him. He is ignorant for all his might, and that will be his downfall”
  48.  
  49. Elodie gave Anon a funny look. “…right. Remind you of anyone?” she deadpanned
  50.  
  51. “Hmph” They continued striding off the parapet into mid air. The city materialized hardlight steps for them to descend upon, more than a mile up in the air. He sighed. “We just don’t know if we’re doing the right thing here”
  52.  
  53. “For the record? You totally are” Elodie gestured at a group of guardsmen flying past in power armour, who saluted as they passed. Far below a steady stream of refugees crossed into Anon’s city, where inoculation, augmentation and bio-registration booths awaited them.
  54.  
  55. “Don’t you sass us. Change is hard, dammit, even when you’re not the freaking God of Stasis”
  56.  
  57. “I heard those capital letters. Someone’s in a bad mood. And hey, I thought we agreed change is good. No more wanton anti-free will hijinks ”
  58.  
  59. “…Elodie. We’ve existed for millennia. We’re a little past just up and turning over a new leaf”
  60.  
  61. “And you’ve had millennia to change your mind when you ruled the Shoggoth Federation. So what’s really on your mind?” They finally arrived on solid ground, ignoring the adoring crowd of citizens.
  62.  
  63. Anon sighed. He gestured and the crowd reverently parted, not breaking his stride. “That business during the Fourth Grail War”
  64.  
  65. “…oh” Elodie’s face fell. “I. I am proud of what we achieved there, you know”
  66.  
  67. “Well, we’re not proud of how we handled it. I should have talked to you”
  68.  
  69. “You killed a bunch of wizards with no sense of right and wrong, anon. You didn’t totally drop the ball”
  70.  
  71. “Let’s be candid” Anon’s mind interfaced with the electronic circuits that ran throughout the city, noting with satisfaction that both his and Elodie’s settlements were expanding at an acceptable rate. “You had an opportunity to kill me, and every reason to. We went to that world entrusting you with incredible cosmic power, and you almost killed us with it”
  72.  
  73. “I-“
  74.  
  75. “No need to apologize” he interrupted. “The past is far behind us, and besides-you had good reasons for it. That’s not what we’re interested in. What we want to know is-do you regret it? Not killing us, that is. Did you ever wish that you’d cut off our head, pinned our soul to the wall and destroyed me for good?”
  76.  
  77. They stopped, just on the boundary between the force dome and the massive, mile-high walls of the city. Anon stared over the horizon. Behind him, Elodie stared at the ground, and took a deep breath. The unspoken offer hung between them.
  78.  
  79. “…yeah. Yeah, there were times I did”
  80.  
  81. “Thank you for your honesty” said Anon, with all the emotion of someone reading a weather forecast.
  82.  
  83. “But-you know what? Seeing what you can achieve when you aren’t being a genocidal megalomaniac? Being able to travel the multiverse?” Elodie gently put a firm hand on Anon’s shoulders, turning him around to face her. “I’m glad I didn’t”
  84.  
  85. “…thank you for your honesty” Anon said, quietly-still betraying no particular emotion. His avatar met her eyes squarely. For a second, the entire universe seemed to grow quieter.
  86.  
  87. “No problem” She punched him on the shoulder playfully, the tension draining like a flushed toilet. “What’re we here for anyway?”
  88.  
  89. A flash of light, over the horizon. Two winged figures hit the ground right in front of them, one in a shimmering veil of superheated plasma, the other in divine fire.
  90.  
  91. “Them. I trust you were successful?”
  92.  
  93. “Indeed, Preserver” said Brigit “but I fear even I cannot set enough land on fire to stem the tide of monsters without collateral damage”
  94.  
  95. “That won’t be necessary” Anon gestured as presently, he invoked Kronos’ power on a grand scale, components shunting themselves together to form dozens of crystalline towers. “Between claiming our city as a demesne and access to the Well, there’s been more than enough magical juice to go round for building up sufficient fortifications. These Ars Armagus structures have temporal control and soul removal functions amongst other things-and they’re merely prototypes. Once the Gundam drones are completed, we can start considering taking the offense to Bhunivelse’s pawns”
  96.  
  97. “Good” Brigit frowned at the sky. “Why does the multiverse have so many corrupt gods?”
  98.  
  99. “Murphy’s law” Anon shrugged. “How do you feel about a spot of deicide later this decade?”
  100.  
  101. “It would be my pleasure” Brigit said calmly, even as the ground around her started melting from barely restrained righteous fury.
  102.  
  103. “Just remember-prep time. Bhunivelse will copy you and I for certain, but our equipment is another matter entirely. We understand he cannot perceive souls, and thus we hope to baffle him by outfitting you with that Wrath armour we talked about earlier. Angela?”
  104.  
  105. Anon had purposefully grown facsimiles of facial features in an attempt to better imitate human expressions and body language to make communication easier. But his messenger was far more singular in mindset, though she looked more human. Golden hair wreathed a beautiful face that never moved, not even to blink.
  106.  
  107. “The cyber empire is en route. Reinforcements and settlements have been deployed, as per your orders”
  108.  
  109. “Enemy movements?” The artificial sun overhead seemed to pulse with Anon’s curiosity.
  110.  
  111. “Manageable. We can deploy mantra drones from the 7th Ark and Light of Jumpchain”
  112.  
  113. “Focus on containment-stasis fields, electromagnetic field based misdirection, mass illusion deployments-the works. These things only get stronger the more we kill them”
  114.  
  115. “Understood”. Her head tilted to the side. Her eyes never left Anon’s.
  116.  
  117. “Very well. We mean, awesome. Yay. Boo-ya” Anon tried a few other catch phrases. “Don’t mind us, just trying to remember how humans talk to other humans. Have a meeting to get to”
  118.  
  119. “Humans are so fragile. Messy. Is this endeavor really worth the effort?” asked Angela dispassionately.
  120.  
  121. “All the more reason they need our vigilance” retorted Brigit.
  122.  
  123. “He could take the god. Here, and now. With us at his side, he will triumph”
  124.  
  125. “Millions would die in the conflict”
  126.  
  127. “Irrelevant. He could devour the usurper’s soul. Gain his powers. Resurrect everyone”
  128.  
  129. “AHEM” Anon coughed. “Appreciate the vote of confidence, but-y’know. Trying not to avoid collateral damage here. Also, not really a fan of fair fights. Anyways-we’re off to see the trickster. You’ve all been working hard, and Elodie raises a good point. We need to conserve our energy for the main push-so now that things are settling faster than anticipated, take the rest of today and tomorrow off. Oh-and unless there’s any objections, we’ll be entrusting Karin and Gar with the Nova Chrysalia mission-so keep your spacebridge coms open in case something else comes up”
  130.  
  131. Anon focused, and transmitted a telepathic relay to his other companions.
  132.  
  133. Nods of assent all round.
  134.  
  135. As Anon left he continued to perceive the others’ movements. Elodie heading off to the local carnival, radiating hope with tinges of melancholy. Brigit seethed with concern, as she flew to the purified Pyre of the Seraphic. Angela simply floated in place, staring at him with unblinking intensity.
  136.  
  137. A few blocks away, Anon settled down in the café. The future was looking bright. With mild surprise, he noticed a white haired man entering the café, still gawping at the alien architecture all around him. At some point he’d evidently obtained a pamphlet about the City of Heaven’s founding-Anon noticed some choice words like “artificial ley line spirits” and “Exile cannon array” were highlighted. He quickly consulted two alternate timelines, confirming his hypothesis.
  138.  
  139. “Hi hi, table for two?” asked the waitress.
  140.  
  141. “Well, three now we suppose. Thank you for coming to see us, Lumina. It’s been a hectic few months”
  142.  
  143. She pouted, putting down the assorted drinks. “You ruined my surprise! How did you see through my illusions?”
  144.  
  145. “Experience. We suppose you know that things aren’t going well out there?”
  146.  
  147. “Yeah. It’s all happening wrong. This wasn’t what I planned for. You mentioned you know” her voice dropped to a whisper “who and what I am?”
  148.  
  149. Anon nodded “And we have a proposal to our mutual benefit. But first things first-we need your help to restore a man named Sazh. And preferably someone called Noel”
  150.  
  151. Lumina nodded. “I know where they are-but getting Noel…might be a little tricky?” She coughed.
  152.  
  153. Anon clasped his hands. “We’d like remove all of Bhunivelze’s pawns from the playing field-but four out of five is an acceptable target, we suppose”
  154.  
  155. As the newcomer’s jaw dropped from watching a mantra powered fuzzy dinosaur stroll through the streets, Anon caught his eye.
  156.  
  157. The man approached the table. “Uh…wow. Are…are you the ruler of this place? Lumina over here said that you could help me-FUCK IT’S YOU PLEASE DON’T BLOW UP ANY MORE IMPORTANT THINGS” he shrieked.
  158.  
  159. “Long time no see, Snow Villiers” Anon replied. “We’ll get to the point: Work for us and we’ll make Yusnaan’s safety a priority. Before moving on to protecting the rest of the world”
  160.  
  161. There was a brief pause as a genuine waitress came and took their orders, the sight of Anon waiving away any thought of payment. Snow blinked several times, failing to convince himself this whole trip was a dream and that he wasn’t actually talking to the alien god who’d entered the world by colony dropping the First Ark directly onto Galenth Dysley, and was last seen apparently trying to perform heart surgery on an immortal while kicking a little girl through a time-space fracture.
  162.  
  163. “I’m listening”
  164.  
  165.  
  166. A few years later, Anon strode the stasis fields-areas of Chaos infused wilderness painted with artificial ley lines. Each stowing a mighty temporal stagnation cantrip, augmented with antimatter temporal principle based para-magic. The effect was rather pleasing to him: Entire armies of monsters effectively timelocked mid-stride for miles, forming a pristine tableau. And thus had the strongholds of mankind been protected from the God of Light’s pawns.
  167.  
  168. Anon tapped aimlessly on a holographic datapad generated from the Sonic Module Weirding Screwdriver. Nova Chryssalia’s population had exploded, no doubt a combination of peace through superior firepower, President Villiers’ investments in AMP research and also morale boositing Precursor tech based radiation.
  169.  
  170. As he passed through the boundary of timelocked monsters, Anon gave the order to his nanoswarm, alchemizing the surrounding ground into reagents from an older reality. Hundreds of formulas streamed from his device, imbuing their meaning on reality in a shimmering rain of arcane code. The catalyst-substrate ratio would have to be carefully managed; too much of one, too little of the resulting reaction. The ground around Anon disappeared as vast swathes of ordinary dirt vanished to create what he wanted, but he kept walking on mid air.
  171.  
  172. Abruptly, someone called him.
  173.  
  174. “News?”
  175.  
  176. “Of the bad variety. I cast the runes this morning and war is coming any day now” At the other end of the line, Odin continued adjusting the enchantments on his spear. “So. It’s the beginning and the end of the world again, hmm? Can’t say I’m impressed with this particular apocalypse”
  177.  
  178. “Cheer up, there’s going to be a doppleganger of you along with everyone else. What would you even get by sacrificing yourself to yourself again, anyway?”
  179.  
  180. There was silence on the other line. “…damned I know, Anon”
  181.  
  182. “Huh”
  183.  
  184. “Probably time shenanigans of some sort, though. This reality is crawling with ‘em. Just don’t ask me how or why my other local iteration is a godsdamn chocobo. This is one of Loki’s tricks, I just know it”
  185.  
  186. “At least he isn’t a foaming lunatic with a brass fixation. How far along is the Human Reclamation Project?”
  187.  
  188. “Well, it turns out the job’s a lot easier when you can have giant fighting robots and beautiful sword maidens do most of the heavy lifting. Everywhere except two major roads is at least habitable, and with all the Chaos that’s being stored in subdimensions it’s no surprise Bhunivelze is stepping up his schedule”
  189.  
  190. “How soon can we move on the temple of the goddess?”
  191.  
  192. “Well, that should t-hmm. It’s happening right now. Sending you the coordinates”
  193.  
  194. “Copy that. Anon out” The ground behind him started to hum as Anon activated the detonation spells. And thousands of monsters lurched into movement as the temporal lock was finally deactivated.
  195.  
  196. “…are you doing that thing where you blow up everything behind you just to walk away unscathed again? You’re doing that thing, aren’t you? Boy, one of these days you’re going to hurt something, explosion immunity or no”
  197.  
  198. “Oh c’mon, Odin. It’s almost like you don’t want these chores-“ A pair of sunglasses materialized out of the aether onto Anon’s face as he stepped through the portal “-to end on a bang”. Almost a cubic mile of perfected Nethicite and Magicite reacted violently, vaporizing monsters in a blast of magical mist as Anon stepped through the portal.
  199.  
  200. “YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH” screamed Jump-Chan, the Outsider and Pinky.
  201.  
  202. The outskirts of the temple were also swamped with Chaos-and lasers. A veritable army of men equipped with directed energy lances and particle collider packs, clad in ablative wear, advanced on the chaos firing an energy signature deciphered. A massive drone breached the temple with a controlled detonation. Everywhere the orange blasts of high energy particles hit, the chaos condensed and solidified into brittle chunks, which were carted up to massive mantra-powered automated dropships equipped with onboard portals keyed to Bradeline’s Well. Everywhere, alchemy specialized prepared to transform the newly barren, chaosless earth into fetile ground with the help of magitech drones bearing various soil PH formulas.
  203.  
  204. Anon approached the commanders’ tent. The complete and utter reversal of humanity’s near extinction had done wonders to Snow’s confidence and bearing; he waved away his aides in the ramshackle conference room to shake hands with Anon, cheerful grin ignored by the deity.
  205.  
  206. “I take it you’re enjoying your newfound power?” asked Anon.
  207.  
  208. “Hell yeah-well, not the power. I just wanted to say-thanks for everything. Really. I just can’t believe everyone in the world mobilized to help so quickly. How did you figure out how to contain the chaos?”
  209.  
  210. “Your species was on the verge of finding a way” sighed Anon. “But it seems Bhunivelze had the head researchers on your project assassinated before they could take it to its logical conclusion. You just needed a missing link bridging the gap between the three principles of antimatter manipulation, and knowledge of the energy wavelength that can consistently reduce the energy involved”
  211.  
  212. “Huh. I’ve been meaning to ask-is it really necessary to keep Fang, Sazh and Vanille in that otherworld of yours?” He looked away, not wanting to mention Serah.
  213.  
  214. “Absolutely. It was hard enough removing their crystal forms without arousing unwarranted interest, but there’s no telling what the divine dunce will do if he suddenly notices his pawns are missing”
  215.  
  216. Snow frowned. “…I guess that makes sense.”
  217.  
  218. “Once we have dealt with matters here, you are more than welcome to visit them”
  219.  
  220. “Thanks”.
  221.  
  222. A blast of purple energy smashed open the temple dome. A man with long purple hair leapt from the temple’s ruins clutching a sword far too big for him started cleaving through the foremen and launching energy orbs. Panic broke out through the ranks, even as gauss weaponry fired on him from airborne drones. Behind him, a ghostly wailing emanated from further within the temple.
  223.  
  224. When he spotted Anon, he screamed “YOU MANIAC. YOU SENT HER TO ANOTHER DIMENSION. DAMN YOU. DAMN YOU ALL TO THE UNSEEN REALM” breaking into a run even as gauss beams scorched holes in his inappropriately ornate armor.
  225.  
  226. “I don’t have time for this” complained Anon as the man bowled over a tank with a massive ice blast.
  227.  
  228. “Caius-here?!” Snow wrested a weapon from a passing man. “We need to get back, alert the local AI. Anon, if we can figure out how he’s returned to this time period maybe we can-“
  229.  
  230. “Fuck that” Caius was mere meters away when Anon’s arm whipped out like an elastic freight train, multiplying into dozens of fists. Caius slashed and sliced-but his sword was punched out of his grasp even as more eldritch fists punched him off his feet and into the dirt, and a hand held his face there.
  231.  
  232. “You can’t kill me” he rasped. He rose to one knee, enduring the identity crushing force of Anon’s AT field, the lashing might of his haki, the hunger of his ki technique and the life drinking malevolence of his magic.
  233.  
  234. “Do you want to bet?” Snow gawped as the immortal guardian started to dissipate under an incoming soul-barrier. All around him men grabbed their injured coworkers and ran as Anon started to impose his will upon reality. His feet dug grooves in the ground as he tried to fight against the spiritual equivalent of a hurricane, his body starting to revert into Chaos from the massive pressure.
  235.  
  236. Multiple tornados erupted around the man. Anon stared at them-and an equal number of firewhirls burst into existence, colliding with and negating the tornados. Caius lifted his arms, preparing to unleash a ball of energy-and started in disbelief as Anon enforced countermagic upon the orb, draining it of all potency until the power fizzled out. He mustered the power to throw another spell-an implosion of light, centered around his opponent. Only to see the glow of a boundary field about him, grounding the evocation into the earth.
  237.  
  238. Scrambling for distance, he invoked Bahamut, the eidolon balefully charging a pulse of energy. Anon tossed a few feathers into the air; in a whirl of golden light, Temperamentia smashed Bahamut so hard into the ground it bounced. A second feather invoked Fortitudo to descend from the heavens, blasting Bahamut with fire before it could recover-and incidentally sending Caius fleeing to recover his sword as he was pelted with lava.
  239.  
  240. “GOL HAH DOV”. With a wave of his hand, Anon banished the Virtues, even as the battered Eidolon felt its will suborned. Caius’ renewed charge was interrupted as he was forced to fight his own summon, mauled and badly bitten, but holding his own long enough to avoid being blasted. As he finally struggled clear of his ally’s corpse, Anon invoked a localized gravity well, smashing Caius into the bedrock.
  241.  
  242. He sagged. “Haven’t you done enough…whatever you are? In a few moments, Yeul will finish rebuilding my body. You can’t kill me” Caius breathed in hard and tried to control himself, remembering the entity annihilating his armies in waves of fire while growing strong from their despair. Even as he spoke, he had mostly dissolved, but for his head and left torso.
  243.  
  244. “Then I won’t try” Anon ripped him from the ground by his head as Chaos melded once more into flesh, and gripped his skull hard enough to audibly crack something. “Shh, no tears. Only Mind Crush now”
  245.  
  246. “Mind what-“ Caius yelped as Anon’s fingers extended to peel open his eyelids, and force him into eye contact. There was a crack of thunder as his willpower and sense of self was utterly destroyed. Something surged from Anon into Caius-Snow was blinded by it enough to turn away, and yet even with his eyes shut he saw the patterns of some colour he could not name writhing furiously.
  247.  
  248. He turned away as Caius started screaming, Anon violating his very soul. When he finally lost his breath, Caius lay motionless at Anon’s feet, facedown.
  249.  
  250. “You will oppose Bhunizelse and his pawns at every turn”. Anon’s voice boomed with otherworldly power, imposing a magical geas.
  251.  
  252. “I…I will oppose Bhunizelse and his pawns at every turn”. Caius sounded more dead inside than usual
  253.  
  254. “You will not bother us with stupid existential questions about the nonexistent meaning of your life”.
  255.  
  256. “I won’t bother you with stupid existential questions about the nonexistent meaning of my life”. Discomforted, Snow realized something like circuitry shone on the inside of his skin and his clothes had melted into a formfitting bodysuit covered in geometric red lines.
  257.  
  258. “Yeul is a shit”
  259.  
  260. “Y-y-y-y-please no”
  261.  
  262. “Say it. Say the words”
  263.  
  264. Caius started to bleed from one eye from the strain of resistance, but all at once he sagged. “Y-yeul is a shit”
  265.  
  266. And without a backwards glance, Anon left him to stagger to his feet, waving away the workers. Caius limped into the distance dragging his sword through the ground, the magical warping compelling him to seek and destroy the nearest group of Ereshkigal.
  267.  
  268. “You coming?” Snow started, jerked out of his horrified fascination. To his mounting terror, all around him his men seemed completely unfazed by the display; some even cheered as the former guardian broke into a run into the distance against his will.
  269.  
  270. “What. What the hell was that for?!”
  271.  
  272. “We neutralized a threat to the universe” said Anon bluntly. He waved the bizarre golden assemblage of tubes and metal shards he referred to as a screwdriver, causing a halo-like shape to form. A portal to the Ink opened, and Snow ran to catch up with Anon as they traversed the Ink.
  273.  
  274. “…well. I. Okay, I don’t LIKE Caius but I mean. Look. He had a hard life, okay?”
  275.  
  276. “And that justifies him trying to end the universe?” Anon teleported the duo from floating mist atoll to floating mist atoll, occasionally pointing his screwdriver to navigate the Ink.
  277.  
  278. “Well, no but-“
  279.  
  280. “-but nothing” They stood at a footpath leading up a particularly large hill, at the top of which stood a large fortress. “We cannot afford to have him interfere at this juncture. If it helps, we can promise that once our decade in your reality has culminated, we will release him from our thrall. Well, here we are. Just let whoever’s on duty at the moment whenever you want to leave, will you? We have a ritual to conduct”
  281.  
  282. Snow took a deep breath, really not wanting to argue with the being who apparently thought cactuar-tonberry hybrids were a good idea. “So what you’re saying is, the ends justify the means?”
  283.  
  284. Anon had began to walk off, but he stopped. “You’ve been talking to Elodie” he stated.
  285.  
  286. “…yeah. Look, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have pried”
  287.  
  288. “Then you ought to know that Caius got off fairly lightly, compared to what we’ve done to others who threatened the universe in their ignorance and pride” Anon’s clinical tone turned bitter. “Yes, in this time, at this place and in these circumstances-we believe the end justifies the means. And now you’re wondering what separates us from our opposition”
  289.  
  290. “I didn’t-“
  291.  
  292. “-very little, if you must know. Except that we have definitive proof that his methods do not work. And so we’ve done what we can to make amends. An imperfect solution”
  293.  
  294. “Imperfect? But you’ve done so much for us! With the things you could achieve-“
  295.  
  296. “-We could have prevented your species from ever fighting a conflict on this scale if we were willing to make you into vessels instead of individuals. But we cannot. We have agreed to preserve free will, amongst other things. The cycle of conflict will continue in the future iteration of your reality” Anon sighed. “As it has inevitably come to pass in every. Single. Iteration of your world we have visited”
  297.  
  298. Snow wasn’t sure what to say.
  299.  
  300. “Well. We’re off” A portal opened in front of Anon.
  301.  
  302. “Wait!” Snow had to be sure of something. “You said you had a plan for breaking Lightning out of Bhunivelze’s thrall right?”
  303.  
  304. “Yes”
  305.  
  306. “I want to help”
  307.  
  308. “We knew you would. Didn’t you read the contract you signed with us in exchange for being our figurehead? You and all those we have saved are obligated by magical legalese to aid us in convincing Lightning Farrow to abandon her current path”
  309.  
  310. “But-you’ll preserve her free will too right? You won’t do what you did to Caius?”
  311.  
  312. Anon snapped his fingers. A perfect replica of the document Snow had signed many months ago appeared at his feet, certain parts highlighted. “Indeed. In fact, there are specific prohibitions against using our powers to affect her mind. Check the highlighted sections, will you? We didn’t offer you success in exchange for security, and expect no other form of payment” And on that note, Anon finally left the Ink.
  313.  
  314. Snow stared for a while then thumbed through the stack of papers thoughtfully as he went inside. Whoever designed it had luxury in mind, with the perfumed, heady air making him feel like he was walking through a blooming orchard. The fort was well lit with electronic lights; in the central chambers Fang, Vanille and Sazh were apparently playing some sort of hardlight shooter game against the pink haired woman Snow vividly remembered blowing up mountains.
  315.  
  316. Serah on the other hand, had already wrapped him in a hug. He returned the embrace, not sure how he felt about this entire situation. He tried to imagine how someone who worked this hard to claim a foothold for humanity, go out of his way to protect his friends and save the woman he loved could be this callous about the rest of the world.
  317.  
  318. A while later, he asked “Serah, do you trust Anon?”
  319.  
  320. “You mean the crazy reality warper who kept dropping steamrollers from the sky and throwing angry little robots at bad people?” Serah thought for a while. “Actually, yeah. Hey Fang, d’you still have those holovids Anon left to update on his progress?”
  321.  
  322. The players were taking a break from laser tag. “Huh? Oh yeah-here” Fang showed her metal disc, which projected a number of screens with population statistics and holographic maps. "I’ll say one thing for Anon-he gets things done. Spent ages making sure we were doing alright before he set us up in this cushy place. Hot meals three times a day, weird alien videogames. It kinda sucks he needs us to stay put until he gives us his say-so, but this isn’t a bad gig to be honest”
  323.  
  324. “He did patch my soul together” added Sazh. “I mean, I was unconscious for most of it, but that’s what Lumina told me was going on”
  325.  
  326. “He really helped me through a rough patch” chimed in Vanille
  327.  
  328. “And let’s not forget he went through all the trouble of extracting my soul from Lumina, and infusing it into this new body” finished Serah. “No changes, no amnesia as far as I can tell-it’s just me. So yeah, I trust him”
  329.  
  330. “…huh”. Snow looked carefully at his friends, noticing a conspicuous lack of mind control or tangible corruption. “Somehow I thought-I dunno. He just really reminds me of people we had to fight before all this”
  331.  
  332. “He sure does, doesn’t he?” Nobody batted an eyelid as Lumina appeared out of nowhere, folding her arms. “But yeah, we’re all on the same side. Friends forever! And speaking of Anon-has anyone seen where he went? I’ve been walking up and down the Chaos looking for him but he seems to have snuck off to some other dimension I can’t find”
  333.  
  334. “Actually, he just left” Snow frowned in concentration. “I think the portal he left through was a featureless grey plane, though”
  335.  
  336. “Oh, Bradeline’s Well! Of course! WHEEE!” Lumina disappeared in a flash of light, effortlessly traversing the boundary between dimensions into the fields of Chaos, waving at some stasis-locked monsters until finally, she appeared in a burst of light at the boundary of a massive magical circle.
  337.  
  338. A few meters away, Anon looked up. Wispy souls dotted the well, circling mournfully as they orbited Anon and his magic circle. Within the circle a galaxy constantly expanded and contracted, pulling yet more souls from the Chaos into the Well, glowing with imbued Eradia conducted on Lyrium leylines. “Oh, hello there. You’ve got us at an inconvenient juncture, and we strongly recommend you stay back”
  339.  
  340. “Hi Anon! Did you know Snow suspects you of being a megalomaniac with control issues?” At some point, someone had planted hundreds of eldritch boomboxes throughout the Well. They hovered in mid air, girded by floating rings.
  341.  
  342. “Interesting. So he does possess basic observational skills”
  343.  
  344. “Aww, don’t be so hard on yourself! You ARE trying to save the world, aren’t you? I mean, that’s why you became a god in the first place!”
  345.  
  346. “Technically, we have to accept that. But aren’t you supposed to be pestering Lightning with questions like this? We already have three narrators”. Anon was surrounded by several holographic monitors, living spells relaying the processing power of ensouled CPUs in Nova Chryssalia to augment the arcane programming he worked to power the ritual. The Light of Azeroth mingled with the Light of the Saviour as he continued to enhance the circle.
  347.  
  348. Lumina pouted. “She’s still cooped up in that pocket dimension. I tried to talk to her, but then she tried to kill me. It was very rude! She kept going on about ‘you can’t change fate’ this and ‘this is my path’ that. I think Bhunivelze really did a number on her head”
  349.  
  350. “Ugh. Are we going to have to punch the godliness out of her?”. A nearby floating staff of charred bone whispered advice to Anon, all the while adding its considerable power to the ritual.
  351.  
  352. “Haha, that’d learn her! But nah, I think he just told her things that made her feel very sad and alone” Lumina kicked the ground. “And told her not to listen to people who only want to help her”
  353.  
  354. “Hmm. Then she still thinks she’s doing the right thing?”
  355.  
  356. “Yep. You know, typical Lightning stuff. She’s just too stubborn to completely reprogram, even by a god! Thinks she’s so high and mighty because she can just pretend she doesn’t feel anything. You know, kind of like you!”
  357.  
  358. Anon sighed, taking a break. “Alright, fess up. Jump-Chan, I know you’re too classy to do this and Pinky’s still on a drunken bender so-this was totally your idea wasn’t it, Outsider?”
  359.  
  360. A plume of Void-mist as the Outsider walked to the edge of the circle. “Well, the jig’s up. I confess, I too was curious about our mutual friend’s choices. They remind me of your own. Unfortunately, she seems to attack anyone who isn’t her new patron on sight now. Instead, I met her better half and decided to tell her some of your own”
  361.  
  362. “He had a dream of eternity” recited Lumina. “It was always his desire that this world would last forever. He battled against all the forces that would bring about its end. But his dream was shattered. The world faced its death, and he couldn’t stop it” She winked at Anon. “Does all this feel familiar to you, Anon? Don’t you think this is like old times, except from the other point of view?”
  363.  
  364. Anon threw up his hands. “…thanks for nothing you Void dwelling sonuvagun” he muttered. “So, Lumina. We suppose you’ve reconsidered our offer?”
  365.  
  366. “Oh, don’t worry Anon!” Lumina giggled, playing hopscotch between sub-pentagrams and mystic symbols of the circle, a hair’s breadth away from stepping on conceptual death. “At least you’re trying to relearn human emotions again! I’d love to come see the multiverse with you! I mean, I’ll have to find something to occupy my time with now Lightning doesn’t want a helping hand anymore”
  367.  
  368. She hid the regret and loneliness well, but Anon could literally see into souls. He tactfully nodded along, waiting until she’d finally hopped out of the circle again. “La vie est droit. If you have to stay, at least stand back. This next part is going to be…complicated” He stood, grasping the staff.
  369.  
  370. Souls poured down from the sky. As they passed through the Unseen Realm, something older than humanity stirred in its dreamless sleep.
  371.  
  372.  
  373.  
  374. On the final day, Anon and his companions watched the force domes rise up, hopefully for the last time in a brief hiatus after furious preparation. The hill they stood on bordered Luxerion’s force dome, and from there they could see half a dozen others. As the last few survivors holed up, they turned their assorted sensory organs onto the immaterial plane, sensing the undivided attention of Bhunivelze.
  375.  
  376. Anon broke the silence, adjusting his golden cape. “He’s sending all the Ereshkigals. All of them at once”
  377.  
  378. “That’s what happens when your idea of terraforming involves timelocking a significant part of the continent” sighed Odin.
  379.  
  380. “Nevertheless. It’s go time. Let’s make this count, people”
  381.  
  382. Fran inputted the coding. And out of the Ink came an army of metallic midgets, torsos in the shape of heads bristling with the greatest weapons ever forged by the Imperium, the Eldar and the Necrons. Anti-gravity modules held them in midair, preparing to identify threats.
  383.  
  384. Gar transmitted a psychic beacon. Out of the Dreamlands flew vast monstrosities, blocking out the sky: Jagged, biometallic nightmares that resembled hybrids of sea urchin and squid and crocodile. Eyeless, they saw. Unfeeling, they stretched their lightwings experimentally. Voiceless, the world shuddered with psychic NYAAs, as the cabbits in the heart of the behemoths playfully readied their greater selves for incomprehensible destruction.
  385.  
  386. Karin performed a complex seal, and a nearby lake dissolved into hundreds of papers. Out of the spirit realm came dozens of gigantic mantis shrimps, a veritable army of humanoid shrimps following in their wake.
  387.  
  388. Angela tossed a handful of feathers into the air, Anon lending his own power to the ritual. With a blinding shower of light, the Four Cardinal Virtues appeared, filling the skies. The Hierarchy of Lacuna filled the sky in thousands, if not millions, from merely invisible footsoldiers clad in orichalcum to massive siege angels armed with divine missiles.
  389.  
  390. Odin struck the ground with his spear. And hundreds of draugr pulled themselves from it, Chaos spawned monsters enslaved by Norse magic. As one, they lurched forwards, as more and more of their kin spawn from the depths in an unceasing march of eldritch undeath. Far over the north, a crystal Titan and a cybernetic Tyrannosaurus had lumbered over to join the already teeming horde of beings.
  391.  
  392. Brigit focused. And the skies erupted with blasts of superheated air, as an army of angelic fire elementals stood vigilant over the battlefield, almost igniting the air in their numbers. Each took the form of a small sun, but occasionally in the flames one could see an angel raising his sword, their spiritual presence far more intense than their already obnoxious heat.
  393.  
  394. Nona transmitted a psionic signal based on her brother’s mental makeup. All the songstone towers throughout Nova Chryssalia started went into overdrive, frantically creating and transmitting living spells embodied into abstract forms. Firing apparatus surrounded by orbital rings, hardlight showers of data, patterns of natural phenomena that self-replicated-they all heeded the directive to assault Bhunivelze’s chosen species, ignoring the other participants.
  395.  
  396. Elodie did nothing. Her army was already abroad the massive floating city that approached the battlefield.
  397.  
  398. “Oniichan, are you sure Lightning will listen to reason?” asked Nona.
  399.  
  400. “Positive. Don’t worry about being missing out on the final assault-It’s going to end with a ZK-class reality restructuring event. And you’ll have your hands full with the Eradia duplicates, even with armies at your side”
  401.  
  402. They all nodded. They knew in theory that they had enough resources to mount both an offense and defense, but it was best to maintain reserves for the final push.
  403.  
  404. The first wave of Ereshkigals was annihilated by a storm of plasma and darklight, causing the armies of God’s chosen species to recoil in surprise. The second was pelted with invisible divine armaments and entropic cantrips, while massive lightwings crashed down from overhead. By the time the draugr and mantis shrimps closed in, war had broken lose on a scale that literally shook the continents as the eight armies decimated the Ereshkigal population.
  405.  
  406. Anon snapped his fingers. From the depths of the human subconsciousness surged a hindu space motorbike, unerringly speeding towards its owner even as he backflipped onto it and accelerated without a second of hesitation. He cut a path through the incoming press of Ereshkigals, the ensouled bike’s variable cutting fields slicing them at Plank lengths while a defensive field shielded the rider from gore. Portal after portal opened, as Anon consulted his Path to Victory. Fate and time itself bent around his passage as he shortened his travel distance by any means necessary.
  407.  
  408. He found her, finally-standing upon a cliff overlooking the wholesale slaughter of Ereshkigals. As expected, the duplicates of Odin, Nona and Elodie stood at her side. Unexpectedly, they seemed to be having a heated argument. A rain of incinerated Ereshkigal pieces fell over the horizon.
  409.  
  410. “…completely unnecessary conflict that could be avoided if-“ Elodie Alter was ranting
  411.  
  412. “-just pointless. I always thought you couldn’t fight fate, but let me tell you: This guy can. So what’s the point of even-“ Odin Alter complained
  413.  
  414. “-wasting time” Lightning looked exasperated, as if they’d been having the same argument hours. “If I don’t save enough souls before the end of today-“
  415.  
  416. “-I don’t want to disappear. I just want to tell Oniichan that-“
  417.  
  418. “Tell us what?” Anon appeared at the edge of the group; only Lightning flinched in surprise, the dopplegangers of his companions unsurprised and wary but not hostile.
  419.  
  420. “…please don’t forget about me, onii-I mean, Anon” Nona Alter looked at him sadly.
  421.  
  422. “We do not forget”. He examined the Saviour’s craftsmanship, curious at how his sister’s-by extension his own-metaphysiology had been replicated and infuriated. Anon turned off his emotions before fury could take hold.
  423.  
  424. “I understand what I am” explained Elodie Alter. “What we are. And it just feels so pointless. When I donned my crown to boost my Revelation parameter ranking-that was when I realized what a futile farce this whole task is. The only problem was-not everyone” she glared at Lightning briefly “listened. Not that I blame them. It’s hard accepting you won’t exist when the job’s done. Or that you’re being strung along by some sort of divine shyster” she added as Lightning opened her mouth.
  425.  
  426. On cue, an explosion rang over the mountains as the genuine companions started to clash with their fakes. Elodie Alter nodded in approval, as she stood aside. “How soon did you set up?”
  427.  
  428. “A split second before the Ereshkigals’ arrived”
  429.  
  430. Odin Alter laughed. “I had an idea for planning around your Path to Victory but-what’s the point? We’re just constructs of eradia and chaos. There’s no future for us-and you know what? I accept that. I understand how I’m not actually feeling how I felt when the Gotterdammerung came to the Nine Worlds, and we rode together into battle, only what that shiny bastard thinks it feels like”
  431.  
  432. “It might” Anon said slowly “be possible to reconstitute you all into entities with an independent identity of your own”
  433.  
  434. “But you don’t have time to do that now” pointed out Odin. He seemed almost serene in the certain knowledge of his doom “Not when you’ve picked a fight with the local head deity again, eh?”
  435.  
  436. “But we-“
  437.  
  438. “Then it’s settled. In the name of whichever Odin is the higher power here-my original or that magical horseman-I place you under a geas to succeed, and find a way to save us from this fate” declared Odin Alter, standing aside.
  439.  
  440. Anon smiled, despite himself. “We’ll see each other when w-I am done here. We promise you this”
  441.  
  442. “I will admit Lumina helped fill in a lot of the blanks. Smart kid, hope she doesn’t pull a Loki” mused Odin.
  443.  
  444. At last, he faced Lightning. Her eyes widened in realization as she recalled an entire army sucked into an implosion at his hands, and she drew her sword
  445.  
  446. “Long time no see, Anon”
  447.  
  448. “Likewise. We see you’ve picked the wrong sponsor”
  449.  
  450. “Are you questioning God?”
  451.  
  452. “Well, yes. He’s just God, after all. Let us guess-this is your redemption for what happened when we threw down against Caius?”
  453.  
  454. “Maybe. And I’m sorry it’s come down to this but-he wants you dead too”. In the time it took to tell it, she was bringing down a sword where she stood. But Anon was faster, applying a wristlock several seconds in the past and sweeping her to the ground. Accustomed to temporal fluctuation, she rolled and almost cut him with the back of the blade.
  455.  
  456. “That isn’t like you at all. Maybe it’s someone else?” Anon ducked a swing, giving ground, never striking back. “Perhaps he’s shown you a bit of false Hope? That was a pun” he added.
  457.  
  458. “Not funny”. Lightning kicked a whirlwind at Anon, who leapt off the cliff to land on thin air. “And I don’t have time to explain myself to you”
  459.  
  460. “No. It’s something else, isn’t it. Or should I say-someone else?” declared Anon, teleporting behind her. Lightning followed, her sword arcing through the air to slash through Anon’s afterimages. Electromagnetic bursts struck the plateau and whirlwinds howled as she tried to land a hit.
  461.  
  462. “What would you know about losing someone?” asked Lightning, slicing upwards, diagonally, thrusting-all in the split second, Anon barely dodging by contorting in ways that bent physics. “Your friends recover from death. You wouldn’t know the first thing of why I have to save the souls of every single human before it’s too late”
  463.  
  464. “We might surprise you. But you ought to know something Lightning: The deal’s rigged”. A blast of ice narrowly missed him. “Tell us, when’s the last time you’ve talked to Serah?”
  465.  
  466. Lightning’s eyes narrowed, as she prepared to land the killing blow. But as it came down Anon confidently stepped in its way. The cut failed to happen; flinching, she cut at him several more times to no effect.
  467.  
  468. “Because we’ve spoken to her this morning”. And with a sudden flourish, Anon undid his cape and whipped it into her forward charge in a complex twirl. As he finally threw the cape off the cliff, its dimensional magics revealed their contents: Snow, Sazh, Fang and Vanille stood in a circle around her. Serah stood mere feet from her, Lightning’s sword still raised over her head.
  469.  
  470. “Claire? Claire, listen to the nice cosmic being okay?” Serah asked nervously.
  471.  
  472. The sword clattered to the ground. “…but” Lightning stammered. “He showed me your soul. He said you were dead”
  473.  
  474. “Do I look dead?” demanded Serah.
  475.  
  476. “Well, no but-“
  477.  
  478. “I’m Snow Villiers” interrupted Snow. “And I’m here to confirm that yes, this is my lovely fiancée”
  479.  
  480. Lightning slumped, speechless as her old friends clapped her on the back.
  481.  
  482. Anon checked the probable futures as he allowed them some time to catch up. He stared up at the sky, wondering how far Bhunivelze’s perception extended.
  483.  
  484. “-so first it was dark. And then I could hear something, like bells chiming right? So I try to find its source, and the next thing I know I’m in this grey place with lots of other lost people. I don’t know how long I waited, but then Anon came, there was this light and then he was telling me to walk into this machine. And yeah, that’s how I got this new body!“
  485.  
  486. “-WHAT?!” Lightning looked like she was about to overload from sudden revelations. “Anon! YOU can manipulate Eradia?!”
  487.  
  488. Anon shrugged, and started juggling Eradia by demonstration. “…yep”
  489.  
  490. “HOW?!”
  491.  
  492. “We are the light and the resurrection” Anon started glowing radiantly, his combined souls surging with Eradia.
  493.  
  494. “THAT DOESN’T EXPLAIN ANYTHING”
  495.  
  496. “Sorry, just wanted to say that. Jump-Chan did it, okay? Now stop trying to kill us”
  497.  
  498. Lightning stared at him for a long time.
  499.  
  500. “…fucking Bhunivelze” she hissed.
  501.  
  502. “Yep”
  503.  
  504. “Hope. He’s an illusion too isn’t he?”
  505.  
  506. “Pretty much”
  507.  
  508. “I’m going to kill God” declared Lightning. “Right. Now”
  509.  
  510. “Maybe you should call off your duplicates of Anon’s friends first?” suggested Vanille. Over the horizon multiple mushroom clouds of nuclear energy erupted.
  511.  
  512. “I don’t think I can stop all of them in time” said Lightning slowly, remembering the ridiculous amounts of Eradia God had channeled through her to recreate those beings. “Because I’m pretty sure some of them are more powerful than the fal’cie”
  513.  
  514. Elodie Alter shrugged. “Alright, guess we’ll have to explain things. See you in the next world, Anon” she added, as the trio got into a Novian spacecraft she summoned.
  515.  
  516. “So we’re going to beat up this Bhunivelze guy now right?” asked Sazh. “Who is he anyway?”
  517.  
  518. “God. Capital G.”
  519.  
  520. “…oh boy”
  521.  
  522. “Yeah, we might want to stay out of this one” advised Snow “but there’s plenty of fighting to be done on the ground. “Hey Anon, killing God’s creations will weaken him right?”
  523.  
  524. “Sure. Not sure how that works actually, but go for it”
  525.  
  526. “Alright. C’mon, let’s go shoot up some fungus dragons” And with that, Snow unclasped his portkey. The others started to vanish from sight.
  527.  
  528. “Wait-Serah! Is it really you?” asked Lightning, grabbing onto her sister’s shoulders. “I don’t want to be tricked twice so please, tell me something only the real Serah would know-“
  529.  
  530. “-you like wearing fluffy moogle slippers” Serah winked. “You kept wearing them in private after you graduated from the Guardian Corps”
  531.  
  532. Lightning’s jaw dropped as Serah apparated in a gust of air.
  533.  
  534. “…you didn’t hear that, right?”
  535.  
  536. “Hear what?” asked Anon, fiddling with his screwdriver.
  537.  
  538. “Good”
  539.  
  540. “I did!” chirped Lumina, stepping out of nowhere. “Does somebody need a lift to Cosmogenesis?”
  541.  
  542. “Oh. It’s you” Lightning wanted to pull her hair. “Yes, totally inconspicuous pink haired girl who looks like me but younger, I need a lift to God’s chambers. But preferably someone who isn’t one more of his pawns come to mislead me”
  543.  
  544. “Nah, she’s cool” interjected Anon. He whistled something under his breath, thinking of the Soulhymn as he kept tuning the screwdriver
  545.  
  546. “I told you not to listen to him” pointed out Lumina.
  547.  
  548. “Ugh”
  549.  
  550. “And what did you do, huh? You just had to go and listen to him!”
  551.  
  552. “Alright, alright, let’s just kill God and get this over with”
  553.  
  554. “Hold up”. Anon looked up, opened a portal and stretched his arm within. It came out carrying an eldritch claymore, all red, black and tarnished gold with a blade that hurt to look at, boiling reality just by existing. “You’re not killing any gods with that crappy hunk of metal you call a sword. Borrow ours”
  555.  
  556. Lightning stared wearily at the blade. It pulsed and seemed to blacken her vision from looking at it too hard. Shadows and golden light scintillated over it, like oil and water repelling each other.
  557.  
  558. Worst of all, she got the distinct impression it was watching her.
  559.  
  560. “…thanks?” she hazarded.
  561.  
  562. Anon extended his senses, and winced at the destructive energies unleashed by his own security protocols. There were a lot of dead Ereshkigal piles on the battlefield, and even more dying ones.
  563.  
  564. “We will join you momentarily. We need to preempt Bhunivelze’s trump card”
  565.  
  566. “Trump card?”
  567.  
  568. “His contingency. He’s readied a duplicate of us. Which we have to admit, is quite impressive” Satisfied, Anon raised his screwdriver to the air. It now resembled dozens of pipes, welded together. “But. We have a plan to take out the duplicate at least”
  569.  
  570. “While I fight you AND God at the same time?!”
  571.  
  572. “Oh yes. And don’t you worry, if he’s put as much of himself as we suspect into his chosen species” Anon gestured at a fleeing flock of Ereshkigals. It appeared one of the Cabbit Reapers had given birth, its newly born progeny playfully hounding the fungus dragons like dolphins. “…he’s probably not doing very well at the moment”
  573.  
  574. And with that, he wandered off into the oncoming tide of Ereshkigals. He focused, his AT-Field gathering about him-and all around him the beings shrieked as they were sliced into monomolecular salami, even as Anon started inhaling their life force like a hungry orphan with a bucket of lead paint.
  575.  
  576. ==================================================
  577.  
  578. In the center of Cosmogenesis, Bhunivelze looked into the world, his divine senses picking up every single event at once. Horrendous amounts of damage were occurring, his chosen race dying in droves even as they shattered the inane, alien constructs. Briefly, he rejoiced as a small bevy of them finally laid low the Titan, only to despair anew as a squad of living suns seared of their wings leaving them to fall into a sprawl of draugr. Elsewhere, massive calderas full of lava marked the earth where Brigit had battled her doppleganger. He then stared at the blank space where his New World lay waiting for its payload of souls.
  579.  
  580. Once again he plucked at the simulacrum of Hope in his clutches. Over the last three decades, he’d finally come to understand completely one human emotion: Frustration. An alien intelligence had invaded his universe, unknowable and incomprehensible save for its absolute mastery over dimensional barriers; if Bhunivelze didn’t know any better, he’d suspect it of somehow influencing the metaphysical barriers between his world and this imperfect creation. Its messenger brought madness and chaos in its wake, tearing through his imperfect creation. All the while gathering a host of allies to its side and encouraging them to participate in its dark rites-including his precious Savior. And despite his best efforts-even awakening prematurely from divine slumber to bend time and quantum mechanics themselves against the interloper-he’d remained stubbornly alive, in no small part due to the being’s own divine control over time, as well as numerous boons from its master that wrested power from Bhunivelze’s own world.
  581.  
  582. He slumped into the Chaos, groaning as the wholesale slaughter of his chosen race wearied him. It was pain beyond human imagining, ache not of mere necrotic issue or damaged nerves but the innate bond between creator and creation siphoning away his strength as his work was undone. The simulacrum he’d created of the messenger-the Jumper, he’d come to understand-also decayed. Constantly disorientated and in pain, Bhunivelze lacked even the strength to fully cleanse the Chaos from his domain. He had halfheartedly tried to sear it away, only to convulse in agony as somewhere, someone attempted to use the magic of sympathies to slay him.
  583.  
  584. He had just mustered his strength and focus when the Saviour herself stepped through a shimmering portal.
  585.  
  586. “Saviour!” Bhunivelze demanded “What is the meaning of this?”
  587.  
  588. “You. Lied.” Lightning’s eye twitched; after holding the sword for a while, she felt almost inebriated with the raw power it exuded.
  589.  
  590. “I do not-ARGH” The blade itself had extended far enough to put a scratch on the god’s face from the furthest disc, before retracting anew. In his weakened state Bhunivelze felt the storm of electromagnetism all too keenly as Lightning raised in for the kill, kicking blasts of ice and wind along the way. He gestured; the simulacrum of the Jumper lunged to intercept her. A fierce battle broke out, cosmic fire and tentacles against the emergent goddess of death and a soul rending blade.
  591.  
  592. The effort made him cry out (was this fear? Helplessness?) but Bhunivelze mustered Lindzei and Pulse to himself, forming the Double Deity as he rose up from the Chaos to smite his traitorous Saviour, gesturing for the simulacrum to stand down. Panic became known to him as Lightning dodged strike after strike, focusing on landing rapid blows on him. Lacerations imbued with destructive fire opened up upon his form.
  593.  
  594. The simulacrum unleashed a storm of cosmic fire; Lightning was forced to retreat as massive tentacles unfurled after her. Seizing the initiative, Bhunivelze lifted his scythe. With grave disappointment, he realized the Saviour had to be put down before too much damage was-
  595.  
  596. -a flash of light. Bhunivelze stared at the Chaos construct that stood before him.
  597.  
  598. “You. Byproduct of the Saviour’s ascension” he demanded. “What is your business?”
  599.  
  600. She shook her head, gesturing to a pocketwatch. Lightning retreated as the simulacrum lifted fifty hands to smash her, but its was already dissolving into light, Bhunivelze’s power already stretched just maintaining the complexity of its metaphysiology.
  601.  
  602. “Speak, or be smited!” Bhunivelze gripped the Double Deity. “My patience is at an end!”
  603.  
  604. “I just wanted to see exactly how bad things are gonna get for you in a short while” explained Lumina. “Aaaaand incoming in three…two…one”
  605.  
  606. The dimensional barriers to Cosmogenesis shuddered, forced apart by an unbearable force. The combatants froze in place, as the impossible happened and a gateway opened to the realm…yet nothing came through.
  607.  
  608. Until a searing burst of un-light ricocheted down the gateways, smashed apart two of them en route and struck the simulacrum in the flank. It screeched as its very soul was rendered brittle and volatile, rupturing and detonating-until at last Bhunivelze released the power needed to sustain it. The simulacrum detonated in a blinding burst of Eratia.
  609.  
  610. It was then that they heard felt Cosmogenesis tremble, as if something was pounding on its boundaries. Someone was shouting something-Lightning thought she could make out an address to everyone. Two worriedly watch reality wobble as something tried to break in. One started taking pictures.
  611.  
  612. The intrusion subsided. Bhunivelze relaxed infinitesimally “An irrelevance. Repent, oh wayward Saviour, and I may yet welcome you into the kingdom I am building”
  613.  
  614. “I’d rather die” replied Lightning, readying the blade even as she shuddered at the noxious addiction it exuded. “but I’d much rather kill you”
  615.  
  616. “Then you will be purified through the glory of my-“
  617.  
  618. The sky broke. For a second, the chaos of interspatial travel mingled with broken rings. And with the force of a Black Materia, Anon Chaos Dunked a burning fal’cie corpse directly into Bhunivelze’s mouth.
  619.  
  620. ‘IT’S TIME TO SLAM NOW!” he bellowed over the explosion, the bedrock of chaos denting even as unimaginable power swamped Cosmogenesis, shattering Bhunivelze’s throne. The god of light tried to condemn his attacker as he went flying from the blast wave, tried to retaliate, tried to curse his impudence but all that came out was a muffled “MMMMMPH MMPH” as he went sliding from the inferno of B-Ball power that knocked him down into a sudden plateau of Chaos. The impact zone calcified and shattered, jagged chunks of Cosmogenesis falling away to reveal the Unseen Realm beneath.
  621.  
  622. When Lightning opened her eyes, Anon was brandishing the screwdriver at the tracts of land where Bhunivelze once stood; a constant whirring noise came from it, as smoking barrels dropped from its main stalk.
  623.  
  624. “Just as planned” he announced.
  625.  
  626. “This was your plan?!”
  627.  
  628. “Well, yes. It’s not like Pandemonium is going to be saying much after being tortured into the rough shape of a basketball is he?”
  629.  
  630. With a roar of outrage Bhunivelze flew back towards the fray, preparing to unleash divine light on Anon-
  631.  
  632. -who was suddenly at the other end of the disc, waggling his fingers.
  633.  
  634. The god tripped on divine spiderthreads, careening out of control. Lightning nimbly sidestepped and slashed, tearing a massive gouge in his side. Out of nowhere Lumina had called forth a vehicular Eidolon, and she too fired into the god as he slid past helplessly; Bhunivelze frantically pulled up a barrier of Chaos to shield himself. As she pelted him with divine electromagnetism, Anon flash stepped to her side again, pointing his screwdriver ominously at the wall.
  635.  
  636. “Accessing alchemic formulae storage. Codeword: Newton. Execute Antimatter Synthesis Principle” he ordered. “Light, Lumina-cover your eyes. Now”
  637.  
  638. And as Bhunivelze prepared to retaliate, the digitally processed formula converted the Chaos into antimatter. With a howl of outrage he fought his way through the explosion preparing to smite the trio. Anon focused every ounce of flame with his screwdriver; spiritual plasma intercepted beams of eradia until a new sun seemed to erupt between the two. Bhunivelze lurched to a halt as he focused all his attention on smiting Anon, who deflected and blocked and riposted with countless beams of soulfire.
  639.  
  640. “Answer me this at least” snarled Bhunivelze, exhausted and hemorrhaging ichor as he struggled. Worryingly most of Anon’s shots seemed to be fueled by souls; unable to perceive them, he was coming off far worse in the barrage of energies. “Why? Why have you interfered? What worth is there to be found in the ruination of God’s work?!”. Blasts of lightning struck him from behind; he was dimly aware of chimeras, gorgonopsids and wosre clawing at his back but he dared not turn his attention away for an instant.
  641.  
  642. A massive boundary field sent eradia flying backwards; Bhunivelze groaned as his own light seared him. The whirring sound of the screwdriver; in his frustration Bhunivelze brought down the scythe upon Anon-only to slice through an afterimage. “Stasis. You claim to stand for it and you risk the destruction of reality itself! What hubris you have to declare yourself a deity you. Double. INFIDEL” he bellowed, punctuating each word with massive blows of the scythe.
  643.  
  644. Searing pain erupted through him as Lightning struck him through the gut with Anon’s sword. The staggering deity lurched onwards, even as Lumina summoned an entire space cruiser class airship to fire upon the god. Throwing aside the scythe, he started to hammer at the ground with his bare fists in desperation. “You are not unintelligent! This outrage against my will, the abduction of my sacred messengers, the thieving of my subjects’ souls-I acknowledge your strength! But why, WHY do you oppose me?! I have seen into your memories, and though you are an abomination and a monster surely you too treasure the greater good over the individual! You too have cast aside the dross of humanity to become something greater-I could almost treasure you as what I would make of humanity, were you not ALSO a living oubliette of the damned! IF you are truly misguided and not a madman drunk on power, then MAY YOU FIND REDEMPTION IN THE LIGHT OF THE NEW WORLD” he screamed,
  645.  
  646. Raising his fists to the air, Bhunivelze surged with Eradia. Divine light whipped through the already brittle walls of Cosmogenesis, thunder crackling in its farthest reaches. The unleashed light seared the entire disc, even as it focused and unfurled in a geometric spindle of beams. As the entire realm faded into white the spindle spun and expanded-until at last all of Cosmogenesis burned with Eradia, an absence of light opening up where Anon stood as erupting bursts of divine wrath filled the skies.
  647.  
  648. As the cacophony subsided, Bhunivelze felt himself relax. He looked upon the shattered vessel of the Chaos spawn, the barely alive form of the traitorous Saviour, and Anon who-
  649.  
  650. “Psyche”. All around Anon, reality wobbled like taffy, somehow undoing the hypernova that had consumed the others. To Bhunivelze’s mounting horror, his opponent began to flicker and writhe as unimaginable amounts of insanity wracked his sub-minds, a madness wavelength roiling about him. With a wave of his hand he resurrected the startled Lightning and Lumina.
  651.  
  652. With an inrush of air, Anon erupted into a plume of lilac flames larger than Bhunivelze, nanomachines reconstructing a gigantic robot around him.
  653.  
  654. “WHY WON’T YOU DIE?!”
  655.  
  656. “Nanomachines, god” He cackled, flexing one mechanical fist as divine circuitry finished unfurling, blue fire blooming between the robot's secondary arms. “They harden in response to energy based trauma”
  657.  
  658. The Double Deity arced overhead as Bhunivelze lashed out in fear, only to stagger as Lightning sliced off his right arm. He stumbled backwards under the weight of his scythe. He flinched as an arc of Soulfire swept over him-and straight through him, leaving no mark; Anon’s corporeal form flickered and stretched as the magnitude of the spell took its toll.
  659.  
  660. “And you’re one to talk, friendo. You usurped the true creator of this world in a fit of paranoia. You’re trying to build a better one by manipulating something you don’t even begin to understand. And what did you do when everything failed so badly you had to kill your own creations, opening the world to Chaos?” Anon’s voice was cold with contempt, rough with sheer force of will preventing him from fully succumbing to psychosis. “You took. A fucking. Catnap”
  661.  
  662. Anon raised his hand, divine spider silk creating massive golden portal through which the Cardinal Virtues entered. As Bhunivelze shielded himself from torrents of lava and living missiles Lumina reappeared over his head, dropping a massive steamroller inscribed with runes of abjuration on him. Bhunivelze reeled in pain, cyclopean beasts attempting to tear off his wings with their clubs.
  663.  
  664. “Every single iteration of this reality you have ruled has shattered directly or indirectly because of your own negligence and stupidity. This is not stasis”
  665.  
  666. A frantic burst of light banished the Chaos beasts from assailing him before they could smash his last few wings, a vortex preventing the Saviour from taking off his other eye and with swing of his scythe the Angels were bombarded with orbs of energy.
  667.  
  668. Bhunivelze was covered in ichor, his face one big bruise, his corporeal vessel mutilated and starting to metaphysically fester; in a few seconds the fragment of Hope he’d bonded with taught him precisely what absolute despair felt like. He limped backwards, exhausted and uncomprehending.
  669.  
  670. Belatedly, he determined the nature of Anon’s magic: Actualisation. Then Lightning cut a gash in his forehead, dazzling him with his own light-and he knew that the last of his leverage was gone.
  671.  
  672. The horror took him then. He felt HER energy signature from behind him, coalescing from Anon’s soulfire-which was impossible, she was dead, long gone. The God of Light heard something vast and terrible rising up, supping on his mounting terror at the realization of what and WHO was returning. Lightning and Lumina both saw it-HER too, backing away. He didn’t want to look. He stopped backing away and looked into Anon’s stoic radiance, whimpering in animalistic fear. This couldn’t be happening, he was in charge here.
  673.  
  674. “Don’t call it a grave” commanded Anon. “This is the future you chose”
  675.  
  676. In a single bound, he hit Bhunivelze with an overarm punch that sent him hurtling straight into the shade of Mwynn’s grasp. He screamed like a little girl as she seized him, and pulled them both into the Unseen Realm.
  677.  
  678. And the surge of entropic energy shattered Cosmogenesis’ already fractured structural integrity.
  679.  
  680.  
  681. For a moment, Anon floundered in the depths of Chaos, regenerating the insanity from his minds. At last he found a measure of stability, focusing on his goals. His avatar had dissolved entirely, taking instead the aspect of a gigantic Rakasha.
  682.  
  683. Someone bumped into him.
  684.  
  685. “Ow! Uh, sorry about that, I’ve been kinda mesmerized by your ever present glow for a while now”. The ghost of Hope Estheim looked up at a towering amorphous energy being and wondered just how lost he was.
  686.  
  687. Anon shrugged geometrically. “We have that effect on people. Listen, have you seen a pink haired girl anywhere? We really need our sword back”
  688.  
  689. “You mean Lightning? Um. I…think I saw her back there?” He pointed vaguely to the right, through the hazy two dimensional colours.
  690.  
  691. “Gotcha. Thanks kid. Do not adjust your set, reality's about to collapse” Anon flashed Hope, causing him to vanish into Bradeline’s Well.
  692.  
  693. Further through the chaos he found Mwynn spanking Bhunivelze. Deprived of his human vessel Bhunivelze couldn’t speak, but the god started crying when Anon stared at him.
  694.  
  695. Anon tactfully walked away, still looking for Lightning. He finally found her strapped to a big chair, thrashing as she had a furious argument with Lumina.
  696.  
  697. “You don’t understand!” she wailed “if I don’t stay behind it’ll all have been for nothing!”
  698.  
  699. “Aren’t you listening you…you bore! There won’t be a New World to protect at this rate, because Bhunivelze procrastinated too long! There’s no souls to bring it into existence, the worlds are separated by a chasm of nothingness! Nobody will appreciate this sacrifice and nobody needs it!”
  700.  
  701. “Serah’s already safe, nothing else matters. Maybe I want to just sit here forever”
  702.  
  703. “Maybe you’re a liar!”
  704.  
  705. “Maybe”
  706.  
  707. “That’s a load of crap and you know it! I know it! Because I’m literally you!” Lumina yelled at her, inches from her face. “Look, you sorta, like, farted me into the Chaos to protect Serah when you were a crystal-“
  708.  
  709. “I DON’T WANNA BE A CRYSTAL!”
  710.  
  711. “CALM YOUR TITS YOU HOPELESS MADWOMAN WOULD YOU LET ME FINISH?!”
  712.  
  713. All around them, everything faded to darkness. And then, there was light-shining in the form of a four pointed star. Expanding and growing brighter, it bathed the Lightnings in a soothing glow of spiritual wellbeing. The shadows and twisted Chaos that pervaded the Unseen Realm started to fade.
  714.  
  715. The world was formless and empty, darkness hung over the surface of the deep, and the divine spirit hovered over the darkness.
  716.  
  717. And Anon said “If you’re both done, we need to get out of here and finish this”
  718.  
  719. “…bwuh?”. Lightning found herself on the verge of yet another nervous breakdown as Anon’s humanoid avatar strode impatiently and also impossibly though a beam of light, the glow from his Rakasha form fading as he stabilized into a humanoid form. For the first time since she’d awoken, he looked tired. She wordlessly tugged at her bonds.
  720.  
  721. “She’s shackled by her own guilt and regrets” explained Lumina.
  722.  
  723. “And therefore physically shackled?
  724.  
  725. “Yep. Go figure. She’s not listening to me either. Also Mwynn told me to give you this”
  726.  
  727. “Thanks” Anon unceremoniously fizzled out the weapon’s blade and dumped it through a portal. “Now come, the enchantment we laid upon the afterlife was coded to respond to a ZK-class reality failure event like this. They should be ejected right about now”
  728.  
  729. “My mission is over. There’s no point for me to exist anymore” said Lightning listlessly. “I should have listened to Lumina. I shouldn’t have tried to kill you. But this way I can-“
  730.  
  731. Anon grabbed a bucket of water from out of nowhere, and doused Lightning in the face. As she (metaphorically) gasped for air, he started beating the living shit out of her chair (and also her psychological issues) until it was a (spiritual) pile of splinters.
  732.  
  733. “Yes, yes-and now we’re on a tight schedule to fix everything” he said testily, holding out a hand. “Well? You want to come see the beginning of the New World or not?”
  734.  
  735. “…’kay” sniffled Lightning, as she started following him into the light.
  736.  
  737. “You sure you wanna take her to see the multiverse?” asked Lumina. “I gotta say, I don’t remember old me being such a whiny crybaby”
  738.  
  739. “It’s just a phase. We all grow out of them” reassured Anon as everything started turning into clouds and fog.
  740.  
  741. “I dunno, she’s been in this phase for like, three decades” Lightning and Lumina started floating, as Anon stubbornly continued ascending at a walking pace like some sort of cosmic mime.
  742.  
  743. He gave the metaphysics of Final Fantasy the evil eye as the universe tried to show him a nostalgic dream image of his past life until it dissipated in fear.
  744.  
  745. At some indeterminable point, they had arrived in space. Planets dotted the cosmos like bubbles. Anon relaxed a little as he savored the great outdoors after all those stifling years spent on a world with an atmosphere. Presently a stream of souls started floating into the universe.
  746.  
  747. “Uh…Anon? I think we have company” Lumina gestured at a reddish vortex in time and space.
  748.  
  749. “Oh Jump-Chan dammit, we thought we’d have had more time”
  750.  
  751. It was happening faster than he’d projected. Anon steeled himself, realizing he’d have to go all out to destroy his opponent without fail.
  752.  
  753. He would have to use…THAT
  754.  
  755. Bhunivelze rapidly rose from it, seemingly healed of all damage. But his face was a rictus of horror and torment, like a war victim. He floundered in mid-air, the vortex pulling him backwards; even after destroying Anon’s Soulfire construct Mwynn’s consciousness had been tethered to existence by Bhunivelze’s own fear. As he looked upon the trio once more something broke behind his eyes and with a desperate howl, he formed a divine mandela. A massive wall of fire started destroying every single planet in the cosmos.
  756.  
  757. “…I’ve been a fool” Lightning shook her head, unsheathed her remaining blade and stood ready. “I might not be cut out for being the Saviour, but I can sure as hell kill gods”
  758.  
  759. “Then let’s get to work” Anon walked towards the oncoming firewall, his mech once more snapping into place as nanomachines converted magical energy into gears, circuits and pistons. In a second of focus, he awakened every pool of power in his possession. Chakra surged as his avatar surged with mana.
  760.  
  761. “Stand Overload!” he shouted, tackling the oncoming blaze and exerting his will upon it. Jagged spines of matter thrust into the fire, siphoning its energy like a sponge. The cosmic void buzzed furiously with AIM, shuddering with pressure. And impossibly, the wall of fire started to slow, grinding to a halt as Anon flickered wildly from the strain put on him. Dimly he spied Lumina and Lightning doing the same thing, forcing the wall of fire to slow even further.
  762.  
  763. “Need a hand?” Snow showed up, his own Eidolon tanking the blaze. More Eidolons appeared-Vanille, Fang, Sazh, Noel-even Serah focused on repelling the glow. A massive burst of prana slammed into it from above as Elodie added her might to repelling it, the surge coming to a screeching halt. With each companion that arrived Anon shivered as his reserves of power expanded further and further.
  764.  
  765. And inexhorably, the wall of fire started moving backwards. Anon felt the limits of his form exceeded.
  766.  
  767. It was time.
  768.  
  769. “Anon!” shouted Lumina. “Get away now! Nobody can handle that much divine energy!”
  770.  
  771. “I got this!” shouted the formless blaze of energy that Anon had become. “Lightning, I won’t be able to manually target him. You want to be the Saviour? Light him up!”
  772.  
  773. “Okay-wait what?”
  774.  
  775. “Wait, you’re undergoing a quantum breakdown? That’s insane!” shouted Lumina.
  776.  
  777. “Just what I was…WAITING FOR” shouted Anon, as he finally dissolved. It was then they realized that everywhere the increasingly large masses of matter touched the fire, they was turning lilac-white, as the combined efforts of his Stand, nanoswarm and magical might subdued the blast. In an instant, Bhunivelze’s divine light collapsed into itself, and started skyrocketing.
  778.  
  779. The onlookers saw dragons larger than continents, massive tentacles, hundreds of lives lived and abandoned-a kaleidoscopic microcosm of Anon's existence. And there were other things-the souls of those Anon had defeated over the centuries, tangled in strings. Gods, angels and demons swirled in agony, as Anon achieved his final form.
  780.  
  781. The towering presence of spiritual dwarfed Bhunivelze, bathing the world in a purple glow. The skeletal makeup of its Stand loomed within, face locked in a vicious rictus.
  782.  
  783. “FOOLISH CREATURE, FLOUNDERING IN BLINDNESS. WITHOUT WILL, RESOLVE OR REASON HOW COULD YOU EVER PRESERVE THE WORLD YOU HOLD SO DEAR?” Anon shouted, in a voice that shook the heavens. “WITHOUT ACKNOWLEDGING YOUR PATHETIC LIMITATIONS, YOU SPIRAL INEVITABLY ALONG THE PATH THAT LEADS TO EXTINCTION. ONCE WE WOULD HAVE LOCKED YOU AWAY, BUT NOW-NOW WE UNDERSTAND. THAT THE ONLY WAY TO PROTECT THE TODAY WE REMEMBER AND THE TOMORROW WE WILL EMBRACE-IS TO CARVE A PATH FORWARDS USING YOUR CORPSE!”
  784.  
  785. “ANTI-SPIRAL”
  786.  
  787. Millions of souls were extinguished forever, sacrificed as Anon’s Reality Marble expanded and solidified around the combatants.
  788.  
  789. “INFINITY”. A vortex of Soulfire formed around one arm, filling the mould of a Nihil Forma.
  790.  
  791. “BIIIIG BAAAAAAAAANG” Space and time convulsed, as the energy Anon had absorbed with his Stand was instantly converted into Soulfire, manipulated into the pattern of the Super Spin and joined the multitude of other energies Anon’s collective consciousness brought into being as he prepared for the final blow.
  792.  
  793. “BREEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAKEEEEEEER”. Lightning understood at last, and shone a beacon of Eradia on the God of Light.
  794.  
  795. Bhunivelze took one look at the oncoming drill and gave up. He closed his eyes as it shattered his mandela like ricepaper and drilled straight into the vortex, piercing the sun that tried to form as he passed. The vortex itself shattered; reality smashed apart as Anon’s drill penetrated straight through into the Unseen Realm, still absolutely focused on annihilating Bhunivelze.
  796.  
  797. Time and space compressed, drawn in by Anon’s Reality Marble as it too followed its creator into the vortex. Planets, stars and energy were sucked into the hole Anon was carving between the universes. As universal constants dissolved, living and dead souls alike were pulled inexorably along universal vectors carved into mystic lines of life and distortion. In an instant the many iterations of Yeul were freed from the Chaos, as alien vectors started formed between the New World and Nova Chryssalia.
  798.  
  799. Faster and faster rotated Anon, as he pierced through the mere physical form of Bhunivelze. He saw the god’s true form, a simple crystal poised at the end of his drill, enduring under his onslaught. Every single point of the god’s being compressed to a singularity, its soul and center fully bared. It was no longer a question of mere power against power but of will against will, the mantle of godhood at stake. All existence followed Anon’s light into a dark chasm without beginning or end.
  800.  
  801. A solution was needed-he was no longer travelling anywhere, existence itself was moving around him as he crushed the god and attempted to assert his inner universe, which spread out to cover the sacred territory separated by his drill. In a mirror of its creator’s power all space and time compressed to thin lines, still rotating with Anon’s drill as their fulcrum. Red lightning crackled around the being; to budge even an inch from his course would be fatal, touching the undiluted power of the cosmos.
  802.  
  803. At last, the infinite spiral of power collapsed upon itself. Dimly, Anon realized the very thing he had always feared had come to pass, and surprised himself with how relieved he felt.
  804.  
  805. And Anon saw it. The cycle of Life and Death. The birth of the cosmos, from start to finish. The passage of souls, their progress in each and every version of the afterlife, flowing through the universe as cosmic lifeblood with a dozen names and none. Anon saw everything flashing before his eyes, even as it was ending, ending ending.
  806.  
  807. He watched as stars were born, and he watched them die. He watched the world remade and undone. He even saw himself, consulting with the sorceress in an older iteration of reality, and another life as a Shinra researcher. Brief glimpses of Final Fantasies yet to be jumped flickered at the edge of perception.
  808.  
  809. “Nothing ever ends. All things must strive. Do you understand?”
  810.  
  811. Who spoke, Mwynn or the Benefactress?
  812.  
  813. Who was meant to hear the address, himself, or Bhunivelze?
  814.  
  815. It mattered not. Foreseeing the totality that was Final Fantasy in one instant, Anon gave his answer.
  816.  
  817. “My drill is the drill. That defeats the heavens”
  818.  
  819. The crystal shattered.
  820.  
  821.  
  822. Anon’s next conscious memory involved someone shoving a crystal in his face. He groaned. It tasted like chicken.
  823.  
  824. Abruptly his senses expanded yet again. He was still in space for one, and far below (or was it above?) him, a white hole belched incalculable amounts of energy
  825.  
  826. There was a relieved sigh. “When you went all out and started using singular pronouns I thought we might have lost you forever”
  827.  
  828. “Oh good” he announced. “We’re still alive. And not chunks of antimatter or slood. So. It worked?”
  829.  
  830. Elodie floated next to him, eying the ambient cosmic events with awe. “Kind of?”
  831.  
  832. “That sounds rather ominous”
  833.  
  834. UM said Jump-Chan. HOW SHOULD I PUT THIS?
  835.  
  836. SO, THE NEW WORLD AND THE OLD WERE SUPPOSED TO WEDGE INTO ONE FRANKENSTEIN OF UNIVERSES WHEN YOU DEFEATED BHUNI-KUN RIGHT? EXCEPT, I THINK THE POWER OF YOUR DRILL COMBINED WITH YOUR REALITY MARBLE AND THE ENERGY IN POTENTIA OF THE UNSEEN REALM AS YOU PASSED THROUGH IT CREATED ENOUGH ENERGY TO GENERATE ANOTHER UNIVERSE BETWEEN THEM.
  837.  
  838. RIGHT NOW THE CONCEPTUAL TUNNEL YOU CARVED OUT IS FULL OF COSMIC POWER, AND IT’S KINDA RELEASING ALL THAT POWER RIGHT INTO THE NEW-NEW WORLD.
  839.  
  840. SEE THAT WHITE HOLE? THAT’S BASICALLY A PORTAL TO WHERE YOUR REALITY MARBLE SORTA WEDGED ITSELF INTO EXISTENCE, IMPLODED AND IS NOW EXPLODING AT A VERY FAST RATE. OH AND IT’S STILL HAPPENING.
  841.  
  842. RIGHT NOW THE OLD UNIVERSE IS COLLAPSING, AND TRANSFERRING ITS MATTER THROUGH YOUR UNIVERSE INTO THE NEW WORLD ALONG YOUR UNIVERSE’S MATTER.
  843.  
  844. OH YEAH-YOU’RE IN THE NEW WORLD RIGHT NOW. KUDOS TO SURVIVING!
  845.  
  846. SO YEAH.
  847.  
  848. “Oh. Oh no-it happened when we unleashed our full power right?”
  849.  
  850. PRETTY MUCH.
  851.  
  852. IT’S SORT OF LIKE THE COCKTAIL STICK BETWEEN TWO OLIVES. EXCEPT IF THE OLIVES WERE UNIVERSES, ONE OF THE OLIVES WAS DEFLATING LIKE A PARTY BALLOON AND THE STICK WAS ALSO A UNIVERSE
  853.  
  854. Anon was silent as he processed the information slowly.
  855.  
  856. “…oops?” he finished lamely.
  857.  
  858. “That’s right, you donk” said Pinky, her hallucination blowing a raspberry at Anon. “I got pics. And I’m showing them to the Pink Tide. And you can’t stop me”
  859.  
  860. “Dammit”
  861.  
  862. “I’ll admit I never foresaw this choice” said the Outsider, scratching his head.
  863.  
  864. “Great. Just great. Okay, how are the non cosmic beings doing?” muttered Anon.
  865.  
  866. “Pretty well, actually. I think it was a side effect of the universe being reset, but everyone with us when we committed deicide just sort of reformed on different planets. Everyone else is…still a soul waiting to be reincarnated, I think. The universes seems to be taking longer to reform because it's trying to process your raw power. It’s been a pretty quiet year”
  867.  
  868. “Year?”
  869.  
  870. “Oh, right. Technically you’ve been in a simultaneous state of life and death from using your own will as the template for a new reality for a while”
  871.  
  872. “But we have contingencies for death!”
  873.  
  874. Elodie shrugged. “Let me rephrase that: You did use your extra life, but you banged your head on reality while tunneling between two universes, and got stuck so hard you became those universes for a while” and she smiled, patting him on the shoulder “the collective well wishes of everyone you saved finished stabilizing your consciousness.”
  875.  
  876. Anon wished the ground would open up and swallow him. Then he remembered he was standing in outer space. “…right. We’re just. We. We need to go take care of something. Be back in a bit”
  877.  
  878. She met his eyes and understood. “Alright. And Anon? You did great out there” She waved him off with a knowing smile, while Anon didn’t blush or mutter something stupid because he was a cosmic entity and didn’t do silly things like that.
  879.  
  880. Floating off into the distance, Anon collected his thoughts, still emotionally drained from the battle. Belatedly he wondered what would happen now Bhunivelze was entirely annihilated and Cosmogenesis was smashed. He contemplated how easily things fell apart-
  881.  
  882. The Double Deity appeared in his hands. The memories of Final Fantasy’s many afterlives sprang to mind, and he realized that the weapon, like himself, was both an idea and an entity unto itself.
  883.  
  884. “Hey. Hey you. Hey, Nova Chrysalia are you listening?” he asked.
  885.  
  886. The white hole continued to belch forth matter and energy.
  887.  
  888. “There’s some friends of ours stuck in you. They’re Eradia constructs, and we’d rather stick them in the New World than back home. There’s nothing there for them”
  889.  
  890. Unceasing outpour of ions and molecules
  891.  
  892. “Yeah, we know, it’s not supposed to work like that. Look, we’ve been through a lot lately alright? Do us a solid, look the other way for once?”
  893.  
  894. Cosmic winds howled, bombarding Anon with quasi-real particles of exotic matter.
  895.  
  896. “What do you mean they’re already dissipated? C’mon, just reverse the polarity of the tachyon flux or something”
  897.  
  898. Nothing but the birth of newborn stars, and the outflow of their byproducts.
  899.  
  900. Anon’s gaze hardened. “Very well, let me put this another way. If you don’t give us back our friends we’re going to shove this metaphor for knowledge of the afterlife straight through that cosmic sphincter, hook it into your time-space continuum and pull until your head is shoved right up the New World’s a-“
  901.  
  902. With a startled jiggle, the white hole expanded and shut frantically. Eight blasts of Eradia soared through to join the outflow of souls preparing to be reincarnated into the New World.
  903.  
  904. “There. Was that so hard?
  905.  
  906. As he waved off the beings made in the image of his companions, Anon fished a pair of sunglasses out of nothingness. “This journey has truly been…”
  907.  
  908. He put on the sunglasses. “…my Final Fantasy”
  909.  
  910. “YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!”
  911.  
  912. FIN
  913.  
  914.  
  915.  
  916.  
  917.  
  918.  
  919.  
  920.  
  921.  
  922.  
  923.  
  924.  
  925.  
  926.  
  927.  
  928.  
  929.  
  930.  
  931.  
  932.  
  933.  
  934.  
  935.  
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  937.  
  938.  
  939.  
  940.  
  941.  
  942.  
  943.  
  944.  
  945. EXCEPT NOT REALLY added Jump-Chan
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