Metempsychosis .

Everything hurt.

I felt the pain in my body, like I'd had my eyes ripped out, rendering me blind.

I felt the pain in my mind, like the stress had finally been too much, rendering be broken.

I felt the pain in my soul, like my foundation had been shattered, rendering me… just… lost.

That me was gone, the connection to it a stump, waving in space, like the broken tether it was.

But that wasn't my only body.

Just my human one.

If anything having the connection cut off like she had done made things easier, unlike the Slaughterhouse Nine. An amputated, burned connection, instead of the spurting wounds Bonesaw had left behind, spilling Essence out in a prismatic pool around myself.

Part of me wished it hadn't been so neatly done, even accidentally.

That I could just lay here, and that would be it.

But, despite my earlier panic, Bonesaw's hack job would've just weakened me, not been my end.

After all, ENTITIES were not so easily killed.

For a time, I laid there, curled as I was, my form multitudinous, though I had no real frame of reference for my size, and I just… rested.

But, eventually, I had to do something.

While the bit of me that was my human body was gone, and my sight through it, remembered its shape, and the bodies of ENTITIES were modular.

While my cousin, no, the clone of my cousin, had sought to murder me, un-Mastered, she had no idea what she was doing, when her hand was no longer being held, with an authority to direct her, and left to her own devices.

As usual.

She'd hurt me, yes, playing off my humanity, as I sought to help her.

With a power that could have killed me if it had struck true.

She'd stabbed me viciously and without remorse.

She'd injured me deeply, destroying Shards.

She'd effectively severed my finger.

Because that's what that body had been, at the end of the day.

A minor expression of my will, though I knew not at the time, same as Scion was not The Warrior, though, if one was smart enough, it would've been possible to follow that connection back to my main body, and use it do some real damage.

It was, at the end of the day, what I'd been planning to do to The Warrior, after all.




So I was just done.

My brother, my father, my cousin, my best friend, and, if she'd been here, I'm sure my mother would've done the same to me too.

Abandoned, cast off, rejected, even with the World at stake, not a single one of them had truly listened, had tried to cooperate, had given me the respect that they demanded for themselves, instead they expected my compliance, if not obedience, with every interaction, treating me like a fool, like an idiot, like a dullard to be managed, exploited, and worked around.

And, like a fool, like an idiot, and like a dullard, I thought there could be more between us. More than meaningless platitudes, more than an outstretched hand, not in assistance, but demanding payment and services while giving little, if any, in return. I'd expected, if not parity, then even a shadow of equity, but… no. All I'd gotten was neglect, was betrayal, was lies, was treated that my expecting anything more than them doing whatever they wanted in the moment without needing to even explain why was just me being unreasonable.

So now, I sat here, in this space between spaces, my own private little universe, away from everything else, and wondered who I even was.

Not Lee, for all I knew he was still home, still back on Earth, maybe having learned, in his own way, what I had. Maybe he'd moved past it. Or maybe he was still stuck in that same rut and unable to see the bars of his cage. Heck, maybe he'd finally broken, like I had that night, and eaten a bullet, like I could not, to just be done with it all, like I'd wanted to.

Not an ENTITY, like the others were, my copy of Lee's mind such that I had a cognizance that reached far beyond the simplistic understanding of simplistic concepts and philosophy your common Interdimensional Space Snake possessed, yet, at the same time, I lacked their racial memory, which gave them a zealot's ironclad belief in their task, and the skills to carry out their crusade against Entropy, for which all others would be sacrificed in the Great Cycle.

I was something in between, and the lesser for it.

Or perhaps the greater.

But if so, it didn't feel like it.

I… I was just so lost.

And tired.

So I rested.

And it was, it wasn't good, it wasn't bad, it just, just was.

But then…

Then what?

While I lacked true ancestral memories, the bits I'd seen, in my lowest moments, the experiences of ABADDON, bled through, and I was able to stretch, to fly, to explore this little pocket of space I resided in, finding it empty except for myself.

And so, hesitantly, I moved, and shifted, out of the safety of the bit of space that was mine, into a much, much larger area.

And met ABADDON.

It was draped, almost casually, across the planets in this copy of Earth's solar system, a nebula of prismatic Essence hanging about it, a space so quiet I knew, though I didn't know how, that we were the only two living things in it.

And I knew that what I was seeing was just a fraction of its true size, spread out across dozens, hundreds of dimensions, dwarfing The Warrior as much as I was sure The Warrior dwarfed me, if not more.

I stared at it, and knew it regarded me in turn, as ABADDON waited, and I wondered what would happen now. I could only assume I'd failed it, just as I failed everyone else, and ENTITIES were not known for their pity.

Would it unmake me?

Eat me?

Recycle me?

Was there any difference between the three?

It was clearly expecting something, but, after all I'd gone through, after everything that'd happened, I… I was just done.

I'd pushed through the pain, through the frustration, the loss of myself in a desperate attempt to save a world that wasn't even mine, because I thought myself a Hero, and that's what Heroes did.

But Earth Bet wasn't a world of Heroes.

It was a world that ate Heroes.

That ground them up.

And spit them out.

And killed them.

Which… which is exactly what had happened to me.

And then I'd stopped, finally stopped, for a bit.

In my little private universe.

But stopping doesn't fix things.

It just lets them degrade.

And, when you're at rock-bottom?

It keeps you there.

So… now what?

With as much of a shrug as an Interdimensional Space Snake could muster, I greeted ABADDON.

Hi, Dad.

Staring at the much, much older ENTITY, I waited, ready for whatever happened next. If this was the end, so be it, but I was don-



Please explain.

I prompted, unsure.






Staring, I processed that, the words carrying far more meaning than they would on the surface, though I could only parse, maybe half of it, and I wished I still had a humanoid body so I could properly sigh and pinch the bridge of my nose, but, oddly, visualizing doing those things still helped. One phrase stuck out, though: 'Your Custer'.

That suggested… a lot actually.

You know what, if you don't mind, could you just, I don't know, tell me why you made me?

Why I'm even here?

And the enormous Interdimensional Space Snake nodded, clearly taking its time with me and, all things said and done, was surprisingly accommodating.

Oh god, it's nicer than my own family, I realized, with gallows humor.

Though, technically, given I was birthed from this thing, mother and father both, did that make ABADDON my family, and my actual family… what exactly?

















So… what I had assumed, more or less.

Good to get confirmation, I guess.

That said, I'd quite obviously failed, though, at the back of my metaphorical neck, a worry started to prick, but I ignored it, trying to fully comprehend what the ENTITY was saying, but, well, either I lacked the proper Shard to understand what it was saying, it sucked at communicating, or both.

Actually, thinking about it, I didn't have any Shards, ones that were programmed at least, other than the core set which made up the core of what was me, but even those, some part of me noted, had backups, so even a single well-placed STING wouldn't do the job.

Every power that I'd had, though? It was gone, and I was just… me.

But before I asked about that,

What do you mean by 'Cluster'? I don't understand.

The greater ENTITY considered that, and spoke, this time slower, letting me not just skim the meaning but be hit by it fully.


It was the difference between smelling the sea, and being thrown headfirst into it.

Vision after vision flashed by my mind, memories distilled into Concepts, the commonalities standing out starkly.

Five lizard-like humanoids, standing in a city built into enormous trees, four green, one blue, standing in a line, the middle one's powers burning Orange and Red, the shape of an ENTITY faint behind it.

Five werewolves, standing on a flat plain of crimson grass, a complex camp set up behind them, four grey, one white, the lead one's powers burning Yellow and Red, the shape of an ENTITY faint behind him.

Five Spiders, standing in a vast city of webs, four thick and hairy, one smaller and armored, perched in a loose formation, the highest one's powers burning Black and Red, the shape of an ENTITY faint behind it.

Five jellyfish, floating within a city of coral, four flat topped, one with a frill, the others circling one whose powers burning Green and Red, the shape of an ENTITY faint behind it.

Five elves, standing in a city of crystal, four pale, one green skinned, standing in a pentagram, the lead one's powers Burning Blue and Red, the shape of an ENTITY faint behind her.

And many, many more, all following that theme.


I saw myself, or, my human body at least, standing there, in New Brockton Bay, Purple and Red Flames coming up off me, the shape of the ENTITY I truly was faint behind me, and, standing off to the side, looking away from me, was Herbert, Purple and Gold Flames coming off him. Even further away was my brother, Blue and Sand Flames swirling around him as he'd turned his back on me, and seemed to be walking off. Faintly, small in the distance, were the Black and Silver Flames of my father's power, the man so distant he was hard to make out.

Then the perspective shifted, slightly, no longer looking head on, but at an angle, showing Grace, right behind me, her Blue and White Flames held tight, a dagger of Prismatic Flame, STING, in her hand, about to be plunged into my back.


ABADDON repeated, and I understood.

And I laughed.

Because it made so much sense it hurt.


ABADDON questioned, confused.

Holy shit. This grand adventure? This coming together to save the world? All of that Hero shit. That was what was supposed to happen. Only… Only while I was all for it, while I was the type to take that challenge, no one else around me was.

It was a sick joke. Really, if ABADDON had dropped me off alone I probably would've fared better, but I'd tried to rely on my family, and the man I had considered my brother in all but name, because that's what you were supposed to do, try to support them, try to help, but I got almost none in return.

Even Herbert, who'd helped the most, had also lied to me, manipulated me, resulting in Dinah getting taken, resulting in me going with a hastily put together plan, doing it all on my own, allowing Coil to move Echidna, and all that followed, the Slaughterhouse Incident the worst, but by no means the only disaster he'd led me into.

Part of that was on me, but, with the support of my family, I could've done… so much more than I had.

Before I'd died.

Before they'd killed me.

And now…

Now I found it hard to care.

Okay, I get it now.

You expected the bonds of blood, of tribe, of family both born and found to carry us through the day.

You thought that, with the problem of The Warrior hanging over our heads, we'd put minor concerns aside.

And you checked me, vetted me, and assumed the others were like me, when… when they're really not.

I sighed, or gave the impression of sighing, seeing as how, being an ENTITY, I didn't have lungs, nor did I need to create sonic vibrations to communicate. Given that, with the distances involved, we'd need to wait minutes, if not hours, between utterances if we did so, doing it this way made a certain degree of sense. Regardless, the mistake was obvious to me in retrospect.

Families, friend groups, and the like shared a common culture, and, while there were often deviations, they usually held most beliefs in, well, common. They had to, in order to get along, past a certain point, and social pressures pushed everyone in line, so the more time they spent together, the more aligned they'd be, allowing them, when needed, to put aside minor squabbles and disagreements and work together to survive.

Except, that was the issue.

My family didn't spend time with me, unless they had nothing better to do, or they wanted something.

And, as much as he claimed to respect me, Herbert, the only one who did spend time with me, was deeply arrogant, believing, simultaneously, that he could never do things correctly, but that also, when his judgement ran against someone else's, that he was always right, that his wealth of terrible life experiences gave him wisdom beyond all others, and that anyone that disagreed with him was foolish, and stupid, and naïve.

It'd taken me looking back over my journey, as I rested, to realize that, to see how empty his apologies were, how tightly he clung to his flimsy justifications, and how all of his Replicants did the exact same thing.

Because, while they were variations on him, they all used the same base.

So, because he constantly lied to me, any adaptions on my part were adaptations to the mask he wore, and, with his arrogance, most of his adaptations to me were blocked by his soul-deep knowledge that he was right and that everyone else was wrong.

And, yeah, I could get the same way sometimes, but logical explanations broke me out of it, while nothing could convince the man I'd once called friend that he wasn't all knowing, his 'folksy wisdom' superior to anything, even the 'folksy wisdom' of other, more experienced people, because even that justification was merely another mask for his unbridled arrogance.

So, instead of a diverse team to support me, differing in skills but united in their cause, loyal to their leader, I had an arrogant fool, a childish user, a patronizing deadbeat, and a duplicitous backstabber who saw me as nothing more than an obstacle to remove so that she could be the one that really saved the world.

We were united in our arrogance, I supposed, but while I knew I could be wrong, asked those around me, checked to make sure I hadn't missed things, and was always open to being proven so, while trying to move forward, my 'friend' and 'family' had no such tendencies.

The only thing I'd refused to believe, refused to accept, was the truth of just what those others around me were truly like.

Until that arrogance had lead to the death of my humanoid form.

Well… lesson learned.

So, now what?

That obviously didn't work.

Who knows, maybe Grace will manage to take out The Warrior on her own.


ABADDON disagreed, stating it as fact.

My first response was that Grace, or at least that clone of my Cousin, was a Blindspot, but I was a Blindspot, and now knew what that meant, the ability a passive Stranger-style Shard that, when pinged by another, went 'no one here but us chickens', like a stealth-jet's specialized paint, but knowing how it worked, I could try and negate it.

For an ENTITY of ABADDON's age, skill, and strength?

Being a Blindspot was useless, possibly even less than useless, if you didn't know it could see you, and you still acted like you were cloaked.

Well…shit. So what now?

I asked, with a feeling I knew the answer.


My response was immediate:

Fucking why?


Then do it yourself.


He's my kin too!

I pointed out, exasperated, just wanting to be done with the Shitshow that was Earth Bet.


The statement from the elder ENTITY surprised me, as, yes, but what…


Did you make me specifically so I could kill The Warrior, and, since I was a child, that would be acceptable, whereas you doing it would not be?

I demanded.

And ABADDON's response?

Was pleased.


That's not how morality works!

I yelled back.

And the ancient ENTITY replied with all the smugness of a six-year-old that's found a loophole in their parent's rules.




It was stated with mathematical certainty, as I came to grips with the knowledge that while I was an ENTITY with the mind of a human, and all that entailed, ABADDON was clearly an ENTITY that had learned morality… kind of.

And if The Warrior had killed me?






So, either way, Earth Bet would be saved. Either by my hand, or by ABADDON's. But…

But I didn't want to do it.


It looked at me confused.


I'm not doing it.

I don't care.

Kill me if you want to, but I'm not going back there.

Fuck, with my luck, I'll mess up whatever eleventh hour plan they're running, and, and I don't want to die, but I'd rather do so now then go through all that again just to die anyways!

So, The Warrior's going to kill everyone?

That makes The Warrior already 'immoral'.

You handle it!

I yelled at the eldritch being, just… just done.

But ABADDON merely stared at me, confused.

For a long.







Despite myself I winced, as that wasn't entirely true either.


I mean, a little, but, no one made my, my 'Cluster' act like that except them.

And if I, I hadn't trusted them, if I'd just realized what they were sooner… then maybe things wouldn't've gone so wrong.

So, So Wrong.

Again a silence stretched between us.

Until, finally, ABADDON seemed to come to a decision.







The ENTITY stared at me with extreme intensity, so I gave a full-body shrug that rustled thousands of mountain-sized 'scales'.


What is it?





I frowned,


With a twitch, the veil between dimensions was thinned around me, allowing to see not just this dimension, but others as well, flashing by so quickly I couldn't keep track, a few hundred or so passing in seconds before the ones I viewed gained a golden tint to them, dozens, hundreds of such scrolling past, before the tint was gone, and another thousand flashed by past that, the ENTITY finally dropping the power, and I understood what it meant.

Just as, before meeting whatever it was I'd seen in that Memory, those BEINGS that were to ENTITIES as Endbringers were to Humans, ABADDON's vision had been limited, as was The Warrior's now. It would destroy Earth Bet in its tantrum, along with hundreds of others, but there were far, far more Earths than those it could reach, and that's where, even if The Warrior rampaged unchecked, destroying those planets it is futile fury, my creator would take me.

Having seen them, having seen the Shard that ABADDON had used, I could probably figure out how to get there myself, given enough time.

But, if Grace was going to fail?

If The Warrior really ran amuck, was that really my fault?


No it wasn't, nor was it my responsibility.

If I sat back like this, I would only have a single regret.



My… my Host.


I want them to come with me.

I clarified.

Win, or lose, I want them to be able to come with me, if they choose to.

Even if they die, like even if I die, and fail, you'll bring me back and let me leave.

I want them to have that choice.

You agree to that, Father, and I will go back.

The look that ABADDON gave me was… proud?


And then the ENTITY moved very, very quickly.

I'd assumed its great size would mean it was, proportionally at least, slow, but a dozen different abilities slammed into me at once, holding me in place, taking hold of a cluster of my blank Shards and reprogramming them, their function locked and outside of my control, but, trying to catch sight of everything that was happening to me, I saw it was several different powers being set up, one that would create a portal hooked into a targeting system that reached inside of me, and tagged strings so small I hadn't even noticed their existence, only realizing as I watched ABADDON work that those were my connection to my Hosts.

I'd piggybacked off The Warrior's control matrix when installing them, so I couldn't do that much with the Shards I'd given Taylor and the others, but in terms of subject designation it worked just fine, the same designation that was then used by another Shard that looked a lot like Echidna's, no, ITERATION's. Only while that Shard had created programmable doppelgangers, with slightly reshuffled connections to the main Shard the Host's power pulled from, to make living weapons, this Shard, patterned off ABADDON's version of the same ability, would make a perfect, quantum copy if need be.

The process would destroy the body, but, with the prediction matrix layered onto it, that would only happen if they had already sustained fatal damage, with the previous scans undoing said lethal injury.

They'd be clones, but then again so was I, theirs of the 'seamless continuation of consciousness' variety as opposed to whatever the hell I was, and I was reminded that the power that ENTITIES wielded was absolutely ridiculous, only counterbalanced by the fact that they were enormous idiots.

I'd say myself included, but that was just obvious at this point.

The 'Save Your Friends' Shard assembly was then sealed up, to the point even STING wouldn't hit it easily, because of course ABADDON had found a way to defend himself against that ultimate attack, and I was, gently but firmly, picked up and thrown right back into the pocket dimension I'd came from.

While I could no longer see my Creator, he could see me, as the amputated bit of myself that led to my now-dead humanoid body was caught by forces beyond my perception, Essence pouring into it, extending out through a pinhole I didn't realize existed, doing something, and then it was done.


I nodded, took a deep breath, and, once more, stepped my perspective out.

And got a mouthful of sand.

Coughing, flailing, I found myself buried.




And then the sand was gone, like it never existed in the first place, and I found myself in the bottom of a crater, in a desert, standing atop a piece of metal, leaning forward, hand resting on its raised surface, taking a deep breaths, more from the shock than need for oxygen.

I pulled on my powers, my Dimensional Cloak, my… anything, but I just stood there, in the oddly green-tinted desert, and nothing happened.

Um? Where are my old Shards?

I enquired.



I processed that, finally asking,

So, like, the Shard scans are held in these bodies like a hard drive, and I need to find my old one to get that data?





And I felt the sense of, of connection, for lack of a better term, fade, leaving just me.

Turning, I sighed, sitting on the raised bit of metal, confused as to where, exactly I was.

Looking out, the desert around me was full of ruined bits of metal, and stone, worn away by time, and-


I looked down at the metal I was sitting on, far too small for me to lay out comfortable along, but, while the smooth surfaces had been effectively sandblasted to a uniform, dust-covered matte finish, it was still intact, and big enough for me to have laid Grace down on.

ABADDON dropped me off where I died.


I… have no idea where that was.

I vaguely, vaguely, recalled that it'd been on the other side of the planet, the desert helping narrow things down, meaning I was somewhere in Asia, or the Middle East, butt-naked, in the middle of the desert.

Which just really narrowed it down, didn't it?

I groaned, gripping the edge of my seat, only, with a faint screeching sound, to feel it start to give way under my fingers.

Looking down, yes, I'd left ten marks in the metal, which, while I'd been strong before, I hadn't been that strong. Standing, my body felt light, but I'd halfway forgotten what it was like to have a body like this, and even normally I was running so many Shards in parallel that my frame of reference was just wrong.

Bending my legs a bit, I leapt.

And the world fell away.

I got more and more panicked as I rose higher and higher easily forty, fifty feet in the air, a small amount of height back when I could fly, but I couldn't fly.

"Fuuuuuuuuuuuuck!" I swore, hitting the ground and burying myself to the knees in the sand which… didn't hurt.

I stood there, blinking for a moment, and pulled myself out, dusting myself off, as much as I could, trying to figure out what the fuck, when I caught sight of an enormous eye, and froze.

Moving slowly, I looked up, then frowned, as the eye… wasn't.

It was the Moon.

Or… what was left of it.

The white sphere had been hit, and hit hard, parts of it just gone.

But more than that, large sections of it were covered with wild growth.

My eyes seemed to have gotten the same treatment as the rest of me, giving me a level of detail I never had before, showing that large bits had been sheared off, but they were caught by long streamers of growth, vines easily the size of rivers extending from the ruined surface to bits of moonrock the size of cities, or small European countries, which were arrayed outwards in an enormous ring around the stellar body, forming the outline of the 'eye'.

The gaps in the structure, through which could be seen the blackness of space, dotted with stars, formed the 'white', the pale rock the colored iris, and, dead-center, was an enormous forest forming the 'pupil'. Only a crescent of the moon was lit, but the darkened sections of forest, both in the center and the long 'vines' were illuminated from within, blue-green bioluminescence highlighting its structures, and what cast the deserts around me in faint green.

"What… the fuck."

Hesitantly, I walked over to the table, where I'd died, and took another seat, looking around, and realized what had happened.

My 'base' powers were all not powers at all, just aspects of my own ENTITY-ness. Power Sight was just my ability to see into the dimensions where Shards lay and understand the Programming when examined as all of my kind could, Unlimited Shard Works was my ability to pattern my own Shards after the ones I'd seen like my kind could program ourselves, Peak Condition was just the refinement of the 'probe' that was my Humanoid Form, and Immunity was merely a way of controlling its status, wicking away thermal energy, and disallowing disease, poison, or the ion-bonding of acid from effecting it merely by just not allowing the probe to be effected, possibly through the same means by which I'd formed it in the first place. If I had to guess, had I ever Second Triggering that 'shard', I would've just extended my 'wicking' ability to electrical and radiological energy as well.

And, for however long I'd been… away, long enough for the Moon to come apart, and go green for some reason, I hadn't stopped developing.

That explained my strength, my visual acuity, my… my everything, as well as the fact that, frigid as the desert was, my breath misting slightly, I was sitting on the metal bare-assed without issue.

So… what now?

Well, I needed to get back to New Arcadia, obviously, so I needed to find civilization. And, given how faint the stars were, looking past the verdant, broken Moon, I had to be close enough for light pollution to hide the greater cosmos.

"Time for a Journey to the West, I suppose," I shrugged, wondering how the hell I was going to pull this off.

Since my body wasn't here they probably buried it, which was considerate of them, and, given that ABADDON told me to go find my 'Shell', it stood to reason that they didn't destroy my body. Entombed it, probably. Hopefully in that cemetery I'd made for the victims of Leviathan, as it was a rather nice place.

Explaining that I wasn't dead was going to be a thing, wasn't it?

But, for the ability to get Taylor to safety?

worth it.

"But I won't do that sitting here," I sighed, standing once more, and looking up, assuming the Moon took a similar path to the sun, that meant West was… thataway.

Casting another look around, seeing the ruins blasted by sand for ABADDON knew how long, I sighed, oriented myself in the general correct direction, and started walking.


Good news? I was right on the general direction, as determined when the sun came up.

Bad news? I was apparently completely off base about the light pollution thing, the glowing moone enough to screen the greater cosmos from view, as I'd been walking for four days, the sky hadn't gone 'full nebula' once, but civilization was nowhere close.

Best news? I was perfectly fine.

No food or water and I was still going strong, my immunity to both hot and cold, along with my superhuman fitness, meant I hadn't even broken a sweat, though I was a little thirsty.

With nothing else to do, I'd tested my physical capabilities and I was… good?

I was in a desert, with no supplies, and so had literally no frame of reference to run tests against.

While I could jump to move faster, after the first time I'd hit the ground, skid, and got sand up in everything, I'd decided that going a bit slower was worth it.

Anakin was right, it was course, and rough and irritating, and got everywhere.

Thankfully, my skin had strengthened along with the rest of me, so it was merely an annoyance, instead of a true irritant, and I got rid of it after a few minutes of vigorous brushing and walking.

Still, slow and steady was, by far, the superior choice.

And, the following night, I'd not stopped, not needing to sleep, and spent most of it studying the moon as I ambled along, unable to pick out anything of interest, still not sure what I was looking at.

Then, on day three, there was a sandstorm that blotted out the sky, turning everything pitch-black, as the wall of debris had hit me, making me take a few steps back, and, after a very few uncomfortable moments, I just closed my eyes, since the sand hitting them was an odd feeling. I cupped my nose with a hand and breathed through that secondary 'chamber', trying to keep moving forward through proprioception alone, putting one foot in front of the other, keeping my movements smaller to avoid getting sand everywhere once again.

Well, I'd failed, on both accounts, as, when the storm had passed, clearing to reveal it was night, I was heading North and encrusted with the stuff, but then it had been easy enough to turn the right way and continue, brushing myself off, eventually.

So now I was walking, barefoot, through the sizzling heat of the desert, completely nude, and… while this wasn't what I expected when I came here, I'd honestly been thinking it was going to be worse.

And then, distantly, I heard the sound of a car's engine.

"Fucking finally," I swore, taking off at a run, having to move a little oddly as the sand gave way under my feet, sending up sprays with every step, cresting a dune, and catching sight of a single jeep, a wrapped figure driving it across the desert.


I yelled, then realized what I did, and tried again.


This time, the man jerked, able to hear me, a simple glance telling me he was Shardless, and I worried that he'd flip his jeep, as he slammed on his breaks, looking over at me, eyes wide behind his cloth mask, with just the hint of an epicanthic fold so… maybe I was in Asia?

Regardless, I walked towards him, waving, as I greeted, "Hello! I appear to be very, very lost! Would you mind giving me a ride to civilization? And maybe some pants?"

And he yelled something back.

Which, also, sounded somewhere between Arabic and an Asian language, so… yeah.

"Sorry, I'm an American, and I only speak English!" I replied with a smile, coming to a stop a good three dozen feet from him, trying to seem friendly.

Again, with the yelling from him.

And, oh, yeah, that was a submachine gun.

Which he pointed at me.


"I really mean you no harm," I told him, trying to at least sound friendly.

In return, he reached back into his jeep, with the gun still pointed in my general direction, grabbed something metal, and threw it at me, but managed to only toss it about twenty feet away.

Then more yelling, pointing at the metal, then at me, with the gun, and I shrugged, walking over to it and…


Shackles, really, more than hand-cuffs, though they'd lock as soon as I put them on.

Looking up at the man, I lifted an eyebrow, and told him, "Yeah, I'm not doing that."

More yelling, and he shot the sand beside me, but…

I could see the bullets.

They were fast, yeah, but I could see them move.

Fuck it.

Starting to walk towards him, I told the man, "Listen, you see a naked dude walking through the desert, and your first thought was, 'Yeah, I'll cuff him, that'll work!' Really?"

The man's finger tightened on the trigger, and I moved, darting to the side, watching as the stream of lead leapt out, faster than I could move, but I just needed to avoid it.

Charging forward, the man tried to correct, so I leapt, passing over the traveler, who tried to turn, weapon tracking, and I landed, hands and feet down to grip the sand and throwing myself forward towards the car, holding the shackles, watching the SMG come to bear as I closed.

He fired again, hitting the gas on his car, and I dodged to the side in the same direction it started to roll in, mostly just sending sand flying as the wheels spun, still closing, faster than the jeep could start to move, but that meant I was easier to hit, and, lifting the shackle, gripping it tight, I interposed it with the stream of rounds, deflecting several, missing a couple, which hit, smarting like a bitch, but then I was on the man, and moved to strike him upside the head to daze him for a moment.

And painted the sands with his brains.

I froze, as the headless corpse went flying, blood pouring into the thirsty desert, the jeep slowing once more, until it eventually came to a stop.

"…Right, I'm stronger. Shit."

Well he had tried to kill me, if I hadn't shackled myself.

Shackles that I probably could've broken free from.

"Well, too late now," I sighed, jogging forward, checking the contents of the jeep, as this guy wasn't going to need it, hoping he wasn't delivering medicine to kids in need or something, dread rising as I found satchels of powder, opening one carefully.

"Oh thank god, it's just cocaine," I sighed, after tasting it. The 'poison' couldn't do anything to me, and a drug runner trying to smuggle things through the dessert was a much more 'acceptable target' in my mind.

Going through the bags, I found a set of clothes, which was good.

The man was also about half my size, which was not.

"I look like I'm wearing a childhood outfit," I mused, making my way over to the exsanguinated corpse, and checking my wounds.

Instead of bullet holes, I only had reddened skin, maybe some light bruising, the equivalent of getting struck with a paintball gun.

I could work with this.

Going through his pockets, and, hey, a cellphone! "Please don't be face-id," I muttered, sighing in relief when it was a fingerprint lock, and using his to pop it open, only to discover… it was in a language I couldn't read. Which made sense. Poking through menus, I eventually found the language option, and set it to English, changing the password, and then stopping, as I read the date.

March 5th, 2019.

I'd been gone for seven years.

I stared at the phone for several long minutes, because hey, I'd already been gone for seven years, what's a little longer?

"Well, the world hasn't come to an end, so we're on the longer timeline to collapse," I sighed, talking to myself, which was a sign of madness, but that train had left the station so long ago that sucker was coal powered. Continuing to go through the dead man's pockets, I stowed everything that looked useful. "Assuming we haven't managed to break that deadline completely," I added, given the number of Blindspots at play.

Walking back to the jeep, switching out the mag on the SMG, I slipped into the seat, seeing a GPS on the dash, tweaking it to display English letters as well, telling me I had another week of walking to get 'there', no roads around for it to key into.

In terms of drive-time, who knew, but I was going to find out.

After all, I was looking for civilization, and now I had a map.

Revving the engine, moving carefully so as not to break anything, I drove off, coasting along the dunes, and flicked on the radio, then laughed, as I recognized that intro.

I knew ABADDON was watching, now, and the ENTITY wouldn't interfere, but either I'd already been found by a Host who was fucking with me, or my father, my true father, had a twisted sense of humor.

Then again, like father like son, I thought, as I sang along.

Because it fit, in a way.

Who I was.

What had happened.

And what I was about to do.

"They all laughed as he turned around slow.

They said you ain't welcome 'round here anymore,

you just might as well go.

He wiped the blood from his face as he slowly came to his knees.

He said, 'I'll be back when you least expect it'.

And Hell's coming with me.

Hell's coming with me."

















AN: And that's the End of Abaddon Born(e).

This is the first thing I've ever written, starting way, way back on September 27, 2017, and, at over 1.5 million words, this thing is enormous. I started writing Original Fiction (Lairs & Liches), a Star Wars Fic (Penumbral Path) and three+ Waifu Catalog fics on Questionable Questing (Under the screenname Leecifer) the last set of which got really popular, enough to make this my full time job (If I'm okay being kinda poor (right now, I am)).

That said, I've wanted to get back to my Original Fiction for three years, but I wanted to keep going with this, even when I was flagging, even when my 'Muse' was giving me the silent treatment, even when I really wanted to give it up, because I hate dead fics yet I, like my self-insert, refuse to give up long past the point a more sane person would've.

This was my attempt to do Worm, but better. I originally thought that would be me doing Worm, but happier, however, as I got deeper into trying to make this stupid world function, and learned more about my friend, and my family, actually looking at them to try and write them better, I realized, slowly, that I was instead doing Worm, but more so.



There will be a sequel.

In five years.

Because I need time to write about ten other books.

If AB was Worm, but more so, the Sequel (CD? (This is a joke!)) will be me taking the setting and breaking its mood, philosophy, and theme in half over my goddamned knee.

As evidenced by the end of this chapter.

So, June 26th, 2028, I will start the sequel, and leave a note here to tell you where it is, and what it's named, because I still need to come up with that.

I can reassure you that it will not be 1 million+ words long.

Until then, thank you so much for reading this work, and enjoying it, because, over a million words in, I hope you liked it, or would at least have stopped long before this point.

Until then, I hope you enjoy my other works, and I hope things are going well in your lives!

-Lee Duckett