Lost And Found Again

Quick Disclaimer: I do not own these characters or the world they inhabit. They were created by the fabulous people at Zombie Orpheus for their equally fabulous RPG, Masters of the Metaverse!  Be sure to tune in to Twitch.TV/zombieorpheus every Monday at 6PM PST to see more!

Elden opened his eyes. 

It took a moment for that to sink in. His eyes, his actual eyes. And they were open. 

The light began to adjust and he started to make out dimly familiar shapes around him. Walls, a thatched roof, the warm glow of a fire in the corner. The sounds of people walking and talking outside. Air moving in trees and grass. Animals calling. 

Home. He was…home.

Elden tried to push himself up and found that his arms felt closer to stone. The muscles protested as he moved, attempting to gain purchase on the world. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a bowl resting on a nearby table, the steam still rising from it. His nose began to pick out the known smell of the stew his mother had made for him as a child. The healing broth for the sick and weak, the soup that would save your life and bring you back. His mouth ached for a taste that his mind would remember and he found himself reaching out, fingers weakly brushing the air around him. 

“Let me help you.”

Arms came under his own, gently guiding him into a more upright position. A figure reached over and grasped the bowl, bringing it closer to his lips. Elden drank it gratefully, his throat rough and ragged from disuse. Finally looking up, he took in the dark eyes of a woman with glasses. She smiled, “Hello Elden.”

He blinked and opened his mouth to speak. His tongue tripped and tangled itself on the syllables that no longer fit inside his forgotten mouth. The woman gently placed a hand on his shoulder, “That’s all right. You’ve been away for…a while. About two months now. You’re going to need a little time to come back to it all. Do you know who I am?”

Elden nodded. He had seen her. Tried to get to her, to help her, to save her. He had watched amongst a sea of voices and minds as the Nightmare had taken her for its own. 

Monday. The Chronicler. 

“I thought you might.” She eased him back against the pillows of his bed, regarding him carefully. “They’ve been taking care of you. Your village. They were given instructions by the ones who brought the pods. One of them is still around.” At this she looked toward the door and frowned slightly. “He’ll be here soon to check on you. Everyone will be glad to see you awake at last. They’ve been worried.”

Elden blinked. It seemed surprising that what had happened to him would warrant concern, let alone interest. He had always been on the outside of his village. Hunting and gathering as needed, not well but not terribly. Doing what was expected simply because it was what he was supposed to do, not what he wanted. Tasks completed for the sake of completion. 

The truth was he had always been far more interested in the stories his Seer told. The worlds spun from the silver words of his tongue compelled Elden forward more than the duty to his village or his tribe ever had. The belief that he could perhaps, one day, make a difference like the pilots he heard about and now had seen…it was the singular driving force of his heart. He knew this at last, better than ever before.

Monday inclined her head and looked at him as if he had spoken all these things out loud. Perhaps he had done. Stories and connections fueled and lifted the Metaverse in ways he had never known possible. But his time in the space between space had given him new eyes. His ears could hear a thousand voices raised in song, their pitch rising and falling with each new choice and path. His mouth rippled with the words of the multitude, their lives a moving tapestry of hope. Now he was here. Back again with his people. 

But how could he walk among them when his feet wanted to run instead?

How could he make them see and understand what he had only dreamed to be true? How could he remain as he was when he had walked beside heroes? How could his life stay its unaltered course when the sky was full of stars?

Elden felt his throat clench and he dropped his face into his hands. Air refused to pass easily to his lungs and for a moment he felt himself fading into the void again. The bed shifted as Monday came to rest near him. A gentle hand touched his arm and Elden was surprised to find himself reaching for it. 

She squeezed his hand, “You feel it too, don’t you? The weight of it? The stories that fill you up and envelope you. Filling your blood to bursting until your heart almost can’t beat. It’s terrible and wonderful all at once. To live in stories. To love stories. To be surrounded by thousands of voices and minds, lives you will never lead but will know all the same. To be more alone than ever before. To understand the world in a deeper way but to also know that you yourself will never be truly understood. At least…not by most people.”

Elden looked up at her, desperately seeking some form of guidance, some sort of hope. He had been lost for so long. Trying for these many months and days to find a way back to the place that knew him. Only to find himself more unknown now than ever before. 

Who was he now? No longer Elden the Lost but…not Elden the Pilot as he had wished. Elden who had stepped into the pod and dreamed of heaven. Elden who had seen miracles and watched sacrifices that ended death. Elden who had watched love save and destroy, seen magic and power rise and fall, felt the end and the beginning all at once. 

Who was he now that the story had ended and he was not who he had hoped to be?

“I used to be a Chronicler. But I was never a very good one.” Monday shook her head at the memory, “I cared when they told me to record. I got involved when they told me to observe. I invested when they wanted me to go. And it took getting trapped inside a dome for four hundred years for me to finally begin to see the truth. It took pulling a man out of the way for me to start to believe. It took finally allowing myself to admit the truth in my heart for me to accept who I am.”

She looked up at him, her eyes gazing directly into his, “I am The Chronicler. Not one of many. One of few. I don’t record so that events won’t be forgotten. I write so that lives continue on and hearts never stop beating. Because that…that is what the Metaverse is. Stories. Our stories. Yours, mine, everyone’s. Thousands of tiny moments that mean everything. Golden threads in a boundless sea. And I think…I think you might understand what that means.”

A sudden sound outside caused Monday to turn, her hand still grasping Elden’s. His heart was pounding. Did he know what she meant? Did he understand? Something in the words felt familiar, a beacon in the dark, but his bones were tied to the earth…what could he do now?

Monday rose and looked down at him with a smile, “They’re coming to see you. Rest. Take your time. Then tell them your story. Tell them all of your stories. Show them the way among the stars. And when you’re ready, come find me. I think we would work well together.”

The voices and footsteps were getting closer now. Monday bent down and kissed him gently on the forehead. “Welcome home, Elden The Found…Seer Of The Metaverse.”


Quick Disclaimer: I do not own these characters or the world they inhabit. They were created by the fabulous people at Zombie Orpheus for their equally fabulous RPG, Masters of the Metaverse!  Be sure to tune in to Twitch.TV/zombieorpheus every Monday at 6PM PST to see more!

Zenda was annoyed. He bent down and picked up the trinkets at his feet, “Goddamn it Jonathan…you really had to go and steal my gold? My private stash? You couldn’t have taken, I don’t know, a stick or something? Do you have any idea how long it took me to…”

His voice trailed off as he caught sight of the other man, “Jesus. What the hell happened to you?”

“It took her.”

Zenda started, “What?”

Jonathan finally looked up, his eyes hollow, “It took her. Monday. It took her. And I can’t find her anywhere. She’s gone.”

He held up his hands and regarded them, as if seeing the cuts and bruises for the first time, “I’ve been looking and I can’t find her. And I can go anywhere. She’s just…gone. She’s nowhere.”

Zenda blinked, “She’s got to be somewhere.”

Jonathan shook his head, “No. I’ve been searching. They told me to commit a crime so I could find you.”


“Crash. The pilots. They were right. Never would have thought of it myself.” Jonathan pushed himself to his feet, “I need your help, Zenda. Please.”


“Get out of here you piece of shit.”

If he had had the freedom to do so, Zenda would have launched himself at Rhodes. As it was, he was held in place by handcuffs, the metal table weighing him down like an anchor around his neck. If only he could find a way to throw himself overboard.

Rhodes sighed, “Relax. I’m just here to talk.”

“Talk” Zenda spat the word, “Talk about what? About how the two people I cared about most in this world are dead? Or about how you got your kicks by making me watch?”

A flash of some emotion passed over the other man’s face but Zenda didn’t care to understand what it was. It was true, after all. Why else would Rhodes have done it? Stood there with him while he screamed, his mouth sealed by forces not his own, hearing his ribs shatter as his heart died.

Rhodes folded his arms, “They tell me you’re not eating.”


“And that you’ve been trying…you’ve been destructive.”


“And that isn’t going to fix things, Zenda. You’re smart enough to know that.”

A mirthless chuckle bubbled up from his throat, “Get out of here, Rhodes. I don’t want your help.”


Zenda watched Jonathan’s face as they walked. He hadn’t known about Wendy until after Antonius. He hadn’t know all the details until after he had gotten the job. He had heard about what Jonathan had done after she died. About him and Hollywood. About the period of time when no one was safe from Metaverse Enforcement. Their reach suddenly longer and colder, their grip tighter and more likely to draw blood. 

But even he knew this time was different. Even he knew that this loss could break him in ways that Wendy never could.

“I’m going to try and find out what I can. But Management was already informed about these oil slicks.” Zenda shrugged, “I told them a while ago. When Crash first found them. They don’t care.”

“Of course they don’t.” Jonathan said quietly, “And I’m sure they have a perfectly good explanation for it. Far reaching view and all that. Not that it makes sense to us.”

“I don’t care what good reason they have.” Zenda replied, “This thing took Monday. Leaving it alone isn’t an option.”

“You think I don’t know that?”

“I didn’t say that. I’m just saying, Management might not be interested in getting up off their asses. So we might be on our own with this.”

“Why do you think I was looking for you?” Jonathan glanced over, “Aside from your connection to her.”

Zenda felt a pulse of heat wash over him, “My what?”

“Don’t pretend, okay? Not right now. You know what I’m talking about so please don’t pretend you don’t.”


“You might not want my help, Zenda.” Rhodes removed his hat and looked down at it, “I mean, that’s fair. I understand. But you need to pull yourself out of this. Because otherwise…they’re going to do something that you can’t come back from.”

“Let them.”

“Come on. I know you’re in pain but -“

Zenda struggled to his feet, the table whining in protest as the handcuffs pulled it closer to his heart, “In pain? Is that what you think this is? That I’m in pain? You have no idea what I am in, you son of a bitch. I’m not in pain. I am pain. That’s all I am now because you took away every part of me that was something worthwhile. You wanted a monster? Well, that’s what you’ve got. And for what? Some gold? That’s what I did that was worth this? You killed them because I stole some gold?!”

Zenda pushed himself forward and felt his ankle pull the restraint tight. Rhodes replaced his hat, “You know it wasn’t just the gold.”

“I don’t care what it was!” Zenda exploded, “You destroyed me because I figured out a way to outsmart you. Well, congratulations Rhodes. You’re exactly as much of an asshole as I had pegged you for.”

He sat back down, “So don’t come in here and try to make yourself feel better at my expense. You’re a murderer. As much as if you’d pulled the rope yourself. So why don’t you just let me finish the job for you?”


“What are you doing?”

Jonathan looked up, “Coming with you. What do you think I’m doing?”

Zenda shook his head, “No. No you’re not. You need to go home Rhodes, okay? Go home and wait.”

“Home?” Jonathan stared at him and, for a moment, Zenda saw a flash of the old Rhodes, “You want me to go home. And where exactly is that, Zenda? Back to the beach? The beach where I can still see her footprints in the sand? And when I’m there, waiting, I’m supposed to do what? Lay down on the lounge chair and take a nap?”

“You know I didn’t mean that.”

“Well what did you mean?” The rage was slowly building and Zenda watched as Jonathan’s hands clenched into fists, “Did you mean that I needed to just go away and pretend that nothing happened? That I should just tell myself a story and hope for the best? She’s gone, Zenda! I felt them take her! She looked into my eyes and I watched them pull her out of the Metaverse. So don’t tell me to go home! Because I can’t! All right? Because she is home. So just get out of my way and let me help.”


“Are you done?”

Zenda stared down at the table, “Just leave Rhodes. Get out of here. Leave me to suffer, that’s what you wanted after all. Wasn’t it? The famous Jonathan Rhodes. Heartless bastard of the Metaverse.”

A thought suddenly occurred to him and he looked up with a smile like a knife, “Is that what it was? You were jealous? You couldn’t stand the thought of a mistake like me having people actually care about him. So you made me watch as they died. That’s it, isn’t it? You’re alone and always will be. You’re an empty hole sucking away everyone else’s life because you don’t matter to anyone! Well, fine. You win. But just remember this…even when I’m dead and dust, I will still have had more than you ever will. Because I’ll be a song and a legend. And you’ll be nothing but a good riddance.”

Rhodes looked at him, an unreadable expression on his face, “Are you done?”

“Done with what?”

“Talking. I wanted to give you a chance to say your peace.”

“Yeah. I’m done.” Zenda slumped back into his chair, “Now what?”

“Now” Rhodes raised his hand, “I help you the only way I can.”

He heard a snap and then everything changed.


Zenda sighed, “Ok. Fine, you can help. Just hold on.”

He reached out a hand and pushed, a ripple in the Metaverse opening in front of them. He stepped through, Jonathan following close behind. Zenda sealed the doorway behind them and turned. Jonathan looked around with a confused expression on his face, “Where are we?”

“Somewhere safe.”

“Somewhere safe. What does that mean?”

Zenda sighed, “It means that you’re a liability, Jonathan. And you’re…a pressure point. You come? It’s going to hurt her so much easier.”

Jonathan shook his head, “No. NO! You’re not doing this! You’re not leaving me here!”

“I’m helping you. The only way I can.”

Zenda snapped his fingers.

Stolen Gold

Quick Disclaimer: I do not own these characters or the world they inhabit. They were created by the fabulous people at Zombie Orpheus for their equally fabulous RPG, Masters of the Metaverse!  Be sure to tune in to Twitch.TV/zombieorpheus every Monday at 6PM PST to see more!

Jonathan pushed his way through the barrier and felt his skin tear. He collapsed onto his knees, soft sand all around him. Several new cuts and bruises appeared on his body but he barely noticed. He staggered up and hurried off, heading into deep undergrowth. God, he hated Cuba.

The Metaverse used to rise up to meet him, an endless road leading to doors that were never closed. Now it recoiled from his touch, pushing him away as he tore at the walls that kept him from her. 

He had seen their faces, the pilots, when he had told them. He knew what they thought of him, what they felt for him. He understood that they still hated him. But it didn’t matter. Not any more. 

Jonathan felt his leg catch on a root, his body lurching forward. He slammed into the ground and lay there for a moment, panting. Every part of him hurt. A small voice whispered to him to stop, to rest. To just lay there and give up.

“Are you going to lay there all day?”

Jonathan opened his eyes and looked up. Monday was smiling down at him. It was the first time he had seen her look happy in a long time. Ever since she had told him about the end of everything. He smiled back, “You’re excited about something.”

She grinned, “I found it. Something to help. To help them stop this.”


“Yes! And now it all makes sense! Now I know that what I gave them wasn’t a waste!”

Monday froze, catching herself, and looked over at him. Jonathan felt his mouth set into a hard line, “What you gave them?”

She flushed, “It’s nothing.”

“It’s pretty obviously something.”

“I just…I gave them a map. Of sorts. That’s all.”

He sat up, swinging his legs over the edge of the lounge chair. He looked at her, “A map.”

“Yeah.” She glanced away and he felt a lead weight descend onto his chest. The last time she had looked like that, the last time she had done something without telling him… 

He remembered her vanishing from his grasp. Watching from the other side as she had appeared behind Brony. Feeling every part of himself clench as the blows whiffed past her in the air. He hadn’t been allowed to interfere then. But the Metaverse had made sure he watched. 

“Monday.” His voice was quieter then he had expected, “Monday, what did you give them?”

She blinked and shook her head, “I don’t…I don’t want you to hate me.”

Jonathan gave a roar of frustration and pushed himself up, untangling his foot from the tree root as he did so. It hadn’t bothered him when the pilots had looked at him with disdain. It hadn’t mattered when he heard Crash’s voice drifting after him as the tear in reality sealed shut. “I know we’re going to help him but I still don’t like that guy.”

He’d spent ten thousand years being the person everyone hated. Ten thousand years of being the bad guy. Ten thousand years of being the worst simply by showing up. And he had gotten used to it. 

Especially after Wendy.

After Wendy, he had raged in his grief for decades. Twisted himself into knots, hating everyone but especially himself. And then somewhere along the way the anger morphed into a cold knot in the pit of his stomach. He got used to the idea of being alone and unwanted. Used to the future that held no one in it aside from himself and the people who wished he wasn’t around. And then she showed up.

“I would never hate you.”

Monday looked at him for a moment and then sighed, sitting down beside him. Jonathan was surprised how reassuring it felt, just having her close. She rubbed her face with her hands, “I…I don’t really know how to explain it. But…I gave them links. A little guidance. That’s all.”

He nodded, “And where did this guidance come from?”

She met his gaze and he knew. “From you.” 

Monday nodded slowly, “From me.”

Jonathan pushed his way through the undergrowth until he found what he was looking for. It was a very clever hiding place. No one would have ever found it. But then again, he had been there the day Zenda used it. He had watched him do it. And then he had arrested him.

Honestly, the first time Monday had walked with him, Jonathan hadn’t thought much of it. She was nice enough, she’d even brought him a burger, but…well, he wasn’t interested in getting to know anyone. But then they started talking. And he found himself relaxing in ways he hadn’t done in centuries. He started looking for her, listening for her falling into step at his side. He started hoping to begin and end his days in conversation with her. And then…then it was more.

Her letter had surprised him. More than that it had changed him. All at once it wasn’t good enough any more to be alone. It wasn’t good enough to follow the rules and be the one who told everyone where to go and how to get there. All at once, he had something better waiting for him on the other side. 

He was panting by the time he got the gold out. His hands were shaking and he felt the panic rising. What if it didn’t work? What if he did all of this and nothing happened? The Jonathan Rhodes he used to be would have never even considered doing something like this. But he wasn’t that man any more. The old Jonathan didn’t have anything to lose. He didn’t have anyone to fight for.

He’d gotten so used to it. To keeping quiet. To not saying much. To using one word when maybe two would have been better. When you can’t lie, the truth sometimes hurts worse than the silence. But somewhere along the way, he’d forgotten that sometimes the truth can mean more than all the inferred gestures in the world. That just because you knew something was true didn’t mean that you didn’t still need to say it. 

When was the last time he had told her what she meant? Had he ever? Had he said the words he felt in his bones every day? That she had changed his life in more ways than he could have ever dreamed of. That waking up with her next to him made him believe that ten thousand years might actually be too short of a time. That for the first time in his life, he thought himself worthy of something more than burden and derision. 

When was the last time he had let her feel his heart beat and told her it was hers?

Maybe he never had. Maybe he had forgotten or believed she already knew. Maybe he had said it every day without thinking. It didn’t matter. It didn’t matter because regardless of the answer, he knew it wasn’t enough. 

He had been so tired of walking. But he would run for another ten thousand years if it meant catching up to her.

He had heard Crash’s remark and carried on anyway. Because it didn’t matter. Let them hate him. Let them curse him or call him a fool. Let them do whatever they wanted. Just let them find her. Find her and bring her back to him.

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

Monday shrugged, “I thought you would be upset. I…I didn’t even know what it meant or if it mattered. I just…did it. It was the only thing I could think of. The only way I knew how to help.”

Jonathan looked at her, “But you don’t have to do that alone, Monday. I’m here. I would have helped you. If you’d have let me.”

She met his gaze then, “I didn’t want you to get hurt. I was trying to keep you safe.”

“So you get to put yourself at risk but not me?”

“Love makes you stupid, Jonathan. It’s a cliche but it’s true.”

“Love also makes you strong.” His own words surprised him, “So let me be strong with you.” 

Monday smiled and reached for his hand, “Okay.”

“Don’t cry, Monday.”

She blinked, “I’m not.”

He extended his hand and wiped away the tear. It felt like oil on his fingers. Black ichor stained her skin, leaving shadowed bruises behind.

Jonathan ripped a new hole in reality. He could see a different Metaverse on the other side. It didn’t matter which one it was. Just so long as it wasn’t this one. All it would take was one step. One step to make him a criminal. It seemed so foolish now. A single step and the world would end. But then again…sometimes the world ended without any movement at all. 

“What is that?” 

Monday wiped her eyes with the back of her hand, black stains leeching onto her skin. They both watched as the blotches began to spread, veins of darkness extending along her scalp and down her neck. Jonathan felt his body turn to ice, “Monday…”

She looked down at her chest. An inky spot began to grow like blood from a wound. 

Monday suddenly took his face in her hands and kissed him. In that moment he saw everything. Their story, every moment of it, and the thousand potential endings that she had always known. He saw their past and their many possible futures. And he watched as they vanished, one by one.

They broke apart and she looked into his eyes, “Remember. No matter what happens, I lov-“

A living shadow of oil and nightmare enveloped her. He felt her fingers slip from his. He reached out for her as the undulating mass simply disappeared. He didn’t even realize he had started calling her name. 

Fifteen tears. Fifteen holes in reality. Fifteen tiny cuts ripping him open. But what did it matter. Jonathan kept running, pushing through walls in a desperate attempt to find him.

He was the first one he had thought of, after Zenda. He knew that all the pilots meant something to her. But some of them were special. She used to get a sparkle in her eye when she talked about those pilots. Rosie, Andi, Ronald Zenda. The pilots who lived in her heart as well as her stories. But there was only one who made her voice change. Only one she had followed since even before he had a name. Only one who’s life story was etched in golden thread along her bones. 

So he was the one that Jonathan knew he had to find. Because maybe the bond went two ways. Maybe the connection meant as much to him as it did to her. Maybe because of that, he would be able to do the impossible.

Falling to his knees, prostrate as if before a king, Jonathan dared to hope. “It took her, Crash. It took her.”

He stepped through the opening, hearing it seal shut behind him. The gold in his hand was unchanged but Jonathan dropped it anyway. He didn’t need it. Only what it could help him do. He sat down to wait. 

Closing his eyes, he tried to quiet the raging storm in his mind. He could barely keep his head above water. But drowning wasn’t an option. 

She had told him stories about avatars in love. Butch and Abigail. How these two people had somehow forged a bond across space, time, and memory. Their love and connection meaning that nothing could keep them apart, no matter what. 

Jonathan found himself pleading with the Metaverse to let even a small piece of that be true for him and Monday. 

There was a sudden catch in his chest as a thread was pulled tight. He held on to that feeling. He didn’t want to think about what it meant if it went away. 

Walk And Talk

Quick Disclaimer: I do not own these characters or the world they inhabit. They were created by the fabulous people at Zombie Orpheus for their equally fabulous RPG, Masters of the Metaverse!  Be sure to tune in to Twitch.TV/zombieorpheus every Monday at 6PM PST to see more!

Monday watched the various flying machines take to the sky. A faint smile played across her lips and she closed her eyes, enjoying the sensation of a breeze through her hair. Footsteps at her back caused her to turn. She smiled, “Hello Ronald.”


He drew even with her and the two of them stood in silence for a time, just watching the beavers soar.

“Going to write this one down?”

She chuckled, “Might as well. It’s not official or anything but…I mean, how can you pass up chance like this?”

Monday turned back and regarded him, “How are you?”

Zenda grimaced, “Fine.”

She raised an eyebrow at him, “Really.”

“Of course.”

“All right.”

She started walking and he followed. She knew he couldn’t stay still for long, in spite of how much he enjoying pissing off Management. 

“I meant to thank you.” Monday began, “For what you’ve done, what you’re doing…about me and the Order. It’s…well, it’s very kind of you.”

Zenda shrugged, “Like I said. I can’t find a rule that says I have to do it right now. Nothing kind about it.”

Monday stopped short and looked at him, “Ronald. I’m saying thank you. Because it matters. Okay? So…just accept it.”

He blinked and then ducked his head, “Fine. But for the record, as far as I’m concerned, your Order can stick their collective heads up their collective asses. Them and Management.”

“Mmm. I’m not sure that they have actual asses but I appreciate the sentiment.”

Zenda smirked, “Yeah well, here’s hoping.”

Monday looked at him, “Listen. If it comes to it…if you can’t hold them off any more…it’s okay. I would understand.”

“Jonathan wouldn’t.”

“He’s a better man then you give him credit for.” Monday sighed, “I’m not saying I’m excited at the prospect just…if there comes a point where you can’t do it any more I won’t blame you.”

Zenda peered into her face, “You look tired Monday.”

She smiled, “Yeah, well. You know, Metaverse ending and all that. Tends to take it out of you.”

“Right. Crash told me about that. The stories.” He cocked his head at her, “I’m guessing that’s not…comfortable for you?”

“At this point? It’s a constant pain in my head. Literally and figuratively. And I’m not really sure what comes next. I don’t know if we can even survive that. I mean, I know I’m not a Chronicler any more. Not really. But…the loss of them. The stories that are just…gone. Even if they stop it in time. Even if everything doesn’t end. The damage…I don’t know.”

Monday folded her arms across her chest, turning away from him. It was the first time she had said what she was thinking out loud. Jonathan knew about the headaches, it was impossible to hide them from him. But he didn’t know her fears. He didn’t know the feeling in her chest. He didn’t know what she had done to try and help. 

Even she didn’t know what that meant. Not yet.

Zenda cleared his throat, “I…I’m not really good at this. But…I don’t know. I’ve seen those people do things that were impossible. Things that no one should have even been able to dream up, much less make a reality. So, if I was going to trust anyone to find a way to stop the world from ending…it would be them.”

Monday turned back with a smile, “I seem to recall you doing some pretty impossible things yourself.”

“I got lucky. And there were a lot of people who sacrificed things so I could stay.” His face darkened, “Wasn’t always the plan.”

“I know.” She reached over and gently touched his metal arm, “This plan was better.”

“You know…I feel like I’ve heard your voice for years.” Zenda mused, “Even when I was a kid. Even before I knew what an avatar was or how to be a pilot. And then I get pulled…somewhere, and you’re there too. In the middle of a sea of voices, I hear you. And I know you. How ridiculous is that? I mean, sure I had the letter. Which, let’s face it, at that point I was fairly convinced was some sort of trick. But then you spoke and I…I knew you. Why?”

Monday shrugged, “Maybe because you were always listening. Even when you didn’t know it. I’ve been watching you for a long time, Ronald. I used to tell you stories while you slept. When you were just a little boy wishing for a name. Maybe…maybe they got through?”

“Why did you show up? That day, in my head.”

“I just…I wanted to help. And I guess I was hoping that hearing another voice, one that wasn’t so unknown, might help you to listen to the ones that were trying to talk to you.”

He chuckled drily, “Yeah. I had a lot of people vying for my attention back then.”

She nodded, “I didn’t know. About Rackham. Not until then.”

“And then you found out that this pilot you were so concerned about was actually mentally unstable.”

“Is that what you think you are?”

Zenda shrugged, “I’m definitely not the most reasonable of men.”

Monday smirked, “Reasonable men rarely save the world.”

“Even so.”

“Rackham was…you. It was the bond manifesting itself in a way that kept you both alive. You just believed he deserved the body more than you did.” Monday looked over at him, “But it was always you.”

Zenda made an uncomfortable noise and started walking again. Monday gave him a moment and then caught up with him. She knew him well enough not to be offended by the motion.

“So have you decided what to do with it?”

He raised an eyebrow, “With what?”

“Your gift. The loot box.”

“You know about that, huh?”

Monday smiled, “It’s part of the story.”

“Fair enough.” Zenda sighed, “No. Not really. I’m saving it for now. It’s nice to have a back up plan. A fail safe. In case the world needs to be saved. Again.”

“Don’t you dare.”

He stopped, the hard edge in her voice freezing his advance. She stared at him, “Don’t you dare. You know why they gave that to you. What they wanted you to do with it. Don’t you dare waste that.”

“You would consider the cure to the destruction of everything a waste?”

“If the price was you? Yes.”

Zenda stared. Monday sighed and started walking again. She heard his footsteps at her back, catching up with her again. 

“I’m not a goddamned hero, Monday. You have to understand that. I’m the guy who got lucky and who now spends his time pissing off Management because I can’t get them to see that what they’re doing is asinine. I mean, I couldn’t even get them to listen to me when I told them about the oil slicks Crash had found. I literally went to them and laid it all out. Politely even. Told them everything and they still did nothing. More than that, they forbid me from doing anything either. So tell me how that’s worth more than everything.”

“Because stories aren’t stories without people in them. And because, whether you like it or not, you are a hero. Heroes aren’t perfect. They don’t always do the right thing. In fact, sometimes they do exactly the wrong thing. What makes them a hero is that they keep trying because they believe that their life is only important if it means other people get to survive. And I’m not talking about a death wish or anything like that. I’m talking about the ability to see yourself and your place in the narrative, and trying to do something that matters, even when it doesn’t work. Trying because you believe you can.”

“Like you?” Zenda asked, eyebrow raised.

Monday gave a small smile, “I told stories because that’s what I can do.”

“And pull people out of the way.”

“Frankly, I was just as surprised by that as anyone.” She frowned, “I’m still not entirely sure how I did that.”


She looked back at him, “And don’t change the subject. If you think I’m a hero, then you definitely are as well.”

He raised his hands in a gesture of mock surrender, “I yield. I’m not conceding the point but I yield.”

“Fair enough.”

They walked on in silence for a time. “Just try not to trade it away.” Monday said, quietly, “Your chance. Please?”

Zenda nodded slowly, “I’ll consider it.”

“That’s all I ask.” She shaded her eyes and looked to the horizon, “Honestly, even after everything that they’ve done…I never thought we would come to a day where I would watch beavers fly.”

“Watch out for that bush.”

Opening The Door

Quick Disclaimer: I do not own these characters or the world they inhabit. They were created by the fabulous people at Zombie Orpheus for their equally fabulous RPG, Masters of the Metaverse!  Be sure to tune in to Twitch.TV/zombieorpheus every Monday at 6PM PST to see more!

Butch sat at the edge of the pool and stared into the water. Bob was downstairs, helping Mako organize the Johnnies into some form of clean up crew. Butch had barely moved since he had left. He had barely moved since they had let go of his hand. The one who called him Butch and seemed to know he should be better. And her. The woman who had said his name like she used to. Like Rita. 

Slowly he rose, his feet unwilling but his mind made up, and walked toward the locked door. Reaching up, he removed a chain from around his neck, a small key winking in the growing twilight. He stared at it for a while. Such a tiny thing, so easy to forget or throw away. So simple to lose and imagine never was. But it was always there. An extra weight upon his heart.

He unlocked the door.

“Are you sure about this?”

Rita seemed nervous and Butch gave her arm a squeeze as they flew. He pulled her closer, “Of course. This is what has to happen. Bob needs to get on board and that’s it.”

“I know but…he’s your uncle. Hex seemed a little…well, a little aggressive didn’t you think?”

He shook his head, “She’s got a plan. It’s a good plan. And Bob needs to understand that. Or we deal with him.”

Rita looked up, “Deal with him? What’s that supposed to mean?”

But there was no time to answer. Mount Rushmore appeared from the fog and Butch brought them gently to the ground. Their landing was completely silent and Butch was able to spot the silhouetted outline of his uncle just over the ridge. 

“He’s alone” Rita whispered at his elbow, “Maybe we can just talk to him?”

“Relax. I’m not going to do anything stupid.”

She gave him a smile that looked closer to tears, “I know. I just feel funny about this.”

“Don’t” he stood up, “Bob!”

His uncle’s head whipped around, “Butch! What the hell are you doing here?”

He walked forward, “You need to come with us, Bob. Hex wants to see you.”

“Does she” his uncle countered, “About what?”

“You know.”

“I’m not signing anything, Butch. And neither should you. Come on, you can’t be this dumb.”

Butch felt a hot flush of anger and Rita sucked in her breath as it hit her too. He felt her fingers slip down the inside of his wrist but he jerked away, “I’m not sure I see what you mean, Bob. You have some sort of problem with what Hex is trying to do?”

Bob snorted, “Damn right I do. Hex is a spoiled brat and you’re letting her play pretend with people’s lives. With their freedom.”

Butch took a step forward, his blood thundering in his ears, “So you would prefer what, exactly? That things stay the way they are?”

“I would. Come on Butch, have some sense.”

“Hi Bob” Rita’s voice cut in before he could respond, “Look, let’s all take a minute here. Okay? We’re just here to talk. That’s it.”

Bob shook his head, “I doubt it. Butch isn’t much for talking these days.”

“Can you blame him?” Rita replied, “You’re not much for listening.”

“Got you brainwashed too, huh?”

She shook her head, “You know me. You really think that’s how it works?”

Bob smiled coldly, “I think you love him and that means you would follow him to the pits of hell if he asked you, regardless of what you want.”

Rita stiffened, “Maybe. The difference is, I know he would never ask me to.”

“Oh, he already has.”

“Enough” Butch snapped, “Let’s get this over with. You either come with us now and sign whatever Hex wants or we take care of you.”

Bob chuckled, “Take care of me? You think you’re up to that? Kid?”

Butch’s fists clenched and Rita put her hand over his, “Bob. Her plan isn’t bad. She wants to bring some order to things. To stop the brawls and fights, the superheroes who use civilians as shields. She wants to end the collateral damage and start making this world a better place. What’s so wrong with that?”

Bob gave a careless shrug, “I don’t really like being told what to do. Especially not by a child.” He cast a pointed look toward Butch, “This is the way it’s always been. This is what it means to be a hero and to make those choices. Sometimes people have to die. Pretending anything else is foolish.”

Butch laughed mirthlessly, “Of course he wants to keep things the way they are. It’s the only way he can feel like he’s making any sort of a difference. The higher the body count the bigger the medal, right Bob?”

“Don’t you dare.”

“No, I mean it. It’s the measure of a man’s success isn’t it? The number of people drowned in his wake. Tell me, the last time you were Titan, how many people did you kill? And how many of them were intentional?”

Bob pulled back as if he had been punched, “At least I know I’m a hero and not just a sidekick.”

Butch didn’t even speak. With a flick of his wrist he sent his uncle flying into the mountain. Rita grabbed his arm, “Butch! Stop!”

“We talked about this, Rita.”

“I know but just…just stop.” she moved in front of him, “Please Butch. This isn’t you. This isn’t who you are. Okay? Just stop. Please. You’re scaring me.”

He looked at her, “This is who I have to be now. This is what has to happen.”

“No, it isn’t. I know you. The real you. And this isn’t it. You’re the one who stops Hex when she’s going too far. You’re the one who understands that the people matter more than the icon. You’re the one who remembers that every person matters. Don’t do this, please Butch. If you do this, you can’t come back. Don’t let them turn you into someone else.”

Bob groaned as he got to his feet, “I know you never wanted to be a Titan but this is a bit much.”

“I don’t want to be a Titan because I see what it makes you do.” Butch shot back, “I don’t need some alien computer telling me who deserves to live and who deserves to die.”

“Butch, please” Rita wrapped her arms around him and whispered in his ear, “Let’s go. Come on. This is wrong. Let’s just go back to Hex and tell her what happened. He’s not going anywhere. We can find him again.”

Butch felt himself beginning to be pulled away. He forced his gaze from Bob back to Rita. Maybe she had a point. Maybe they should just let him go. Hex would be able to handle him easily. By the time Bob realized how unprepared he was, the haiku would already be done. 

“Better listen to her” Bob grimaced, “She’s the only thing keeping you alive right now. Pretty sad considering she’s a villain.”

A jolt of ice shot through him. The rage swelled and overwhelmed. His vision tunneled and the only thought left in his mind was that of ending Bob Baker. Uncle Bob. The man who was supposed to keep the world safe but who saw ordinary people as expendable in the name of the greater good. The man who should have stood with him and helped bring order out of chaos but who chose to remain on the side of the ones who saw life as a tally mark and nothing more. Butch was so sick of it. The super hero lifestyle, the pretend goodwill, the false prestige. Smiles for the cameras while they cleaned the blood off your boots.

He hit him with everything he had. 

Then she got in the way.

He tried to stop it. In the fraction of the instant when he saw her stepping in front of Bob, Butch tried to pull back.


For a moment he thought it had worked.

For a moment he held the kinetic force in a tight ball and believed that he had been in time. 

But then he saw her.


She was so still. He felt the lack of movement acutely, his kinetic powers screaming for her to take flight.


His voice was barely a whisper, his steps toward her slow and timid. He reached out for her and his control slipped. The energy released and she scattered to the wind.

He didn’t remember much after that. He didn’t remember bringing down the mountain. The blood on his hands told that story. He did remember taking off toward the sun, hoping to burn away and find her in the ether. He remembered the feeling of atmosphere leaving his lungs, the ice clouding his vision as he fell. He didn’t remember coming home, back to the place that still smelled like her, still held the impression of her head on his pillow. 

He did remember shutting the door. He remembered locking it. 

He had almost thrown away the key but stopped. The tiny metal object felt too much like the last piece of her to let go. So he hung it around his neck, half hoping it would strangle him in his sleep, and pretended to forget that it was there.

Butch hesitated at the doorway. How could he just go inside? After everything. After everything he had done…and not done.

“You’ve got a lot to make up for.”

The boy hadn’t been wrong. How many people had died because he hadn’t moved? How many years of terror because he had walked away from his friends? How much darkness because he had snuffed out his own light? How could he ever begin to make up for that?

“Rita would forgive you. And I know Butch would forgive himself. So maybe you’ll be okay.”

Forgiveness was a funny thing. The people who gave it never deserved it. And the people who needed it never asked. But maybe, just this once, fate could be kind. Maybe, just this once, he could try.

He took a step into the room. 

The bed was the same as it had been that last morning. She never liked to go without making it. He reached out and touched the blankets, hoping that some traces of her were left in them. 

“Hi Rita.”

Maybe it was his imagination, or just wishful thinking, but for a moment Butch felt as if the room grew lighter, that some of the chill retreated and the world started turning again. That maybe he was welcome after all.

“You know why Butch would never have done what you’re doing, in the other world?”

He knew. He knew that he had given up and that this other version of himself never had. He knew it and what’s more he knew why. He hoped the other Butch did too. He hoped that he woke up every day and looked at her with wonder. He hoped that the other Butch knew, as he did, that she was the tipping point of his life. That without her, his heart would never beat as strong or as true. That she mattered more than she would ever know, in ways she would never believe. That she was the reason why he had never given up and never would. That she was his hero.

Butch sat down carefully on the edge of the bed and looked at the photos on the wall. Snapshots of a life lost and surrendered. He hadn’t been worth her sacrifice. Not yet.

“I’m so sorry.”

But there was still time.

“I miss you.”

She had smiled at him when she released his hand, the woman who held Rita inside her soul. She had placed her hand on his cheek, “It’s not the beach. But I’ve always loved a reunion more than a wedding.”

Butch closed his eyes and opened them into a memory he had never lived. 

He climbed the stairs out of Balthazar’s castle. The sun seemed incredibly bright. Hex, Bombshell, and Lady Veil joined him on the lawn and stared. The sky wasn’t blue any more. 

The dome was gone.

Butch and the others made their way back to Sentinel City. Turning a corner, they came upon a crowd of people standing in the middle of the street. An entire population searching the horizon, looking out at a strange new world that had no such people in it. But he didn’t see any of that. He was looking for a face in the crowd.

Just one.

His feet started moving on their own, pulled by a current he could not see. Butch closed his eyes and surrendered. Let the universe do what it liked. It had been four hundred years. He would go where he was supposed to. Because he always remembered. 


Suddenly he stopped. He was standing outside a diner with cracked tabletops and crappy fries. As he stood, staring at his own reflection in the plate glass window, he heard the sound of heart beats behind him. He turned. 

She smiled, “Hi Butch.”


Quick Disclaimer: I do not own these characters or the world they inhabit. They were created by the fabulous people at Zombie Orpheus for their equally fabulous RPG, Masters of the Metaverse!  Be sure to tune in to Twitch.TV/zombieorpheus every Monday at 6PM PST to see more!

The city jail wasn’t a glamorous place. It wasn’t supposed to be. Actually that wasn’t entirely true. The front lobby was quite attractive. Made up to look like the pinnacle of truth, justice, and the supposed American way, the main entrance was perfect for press conferences and photo ops. Butch hated it. It felt too much like a lie wrapped up in a smile. He preferred the back.

The desk sergeant looked up as he entered, “Oh! Kid, uh Kid Titan!”

Butch waved him off, “Don’t get up. I’m just checking in. My uncle wanted to see if anyone had made bail recently.”

The officer blinked, making a point not to stare at the yellowing bruises on Butch’s face, and then reached for a clipboard, “Since the last time you were here? Uh…well it looks like Teflon slipped out.”

Here he paused and looked up at Butch, waiting for the comedic effect to land. Butch stared at him in return. He cleared his throat awkwardly, “Ahem. Aside from him, no. No one else.”

Butch nodded, “Thanks.”

He turned to go and a flash of red caught his eye. He craned his neck around the corner, “Abbi?”

She stiffened and quickly whipped around, “Great. Did you come to gloat?”

“What are you doing here? Who arrested you?”

“You did!”

Butch blinked, “That was three days ago.”

She shrugged, “Yeah. So?”

“So, why didn’t anyone come bail you out?”

“Don’t worry about it.”

Butch leaned back and caught the sergeant’s eye again, “Can you open her cell? I just want to talk to her.”

“Sure! Sure thing Kid uh Mr. Kid, uh Kid Butch…yes, just hang on!”

The door buzzed and Butch pushed it open. It clicked shut behind him and he leaned against the wall opposite her. They stood in silence until finally she said, “I’m sorry for punching you.”

He shrugged, “It’s okay. A lot of people do it. I’m pretty inept at getting out of the way.”

She smirked, “Sounds like a great trait for a super hero.”

“Taking a punch can make a difference.”

Abbi nodded, “I guess.”

“So why are you still in jail?”

She slumped down on the bench, “Because I like it here?”


“Stop calling me that. I’m Rita. Rita Riot.”

“Fine. Rita.”

She glared, “What? You said it yourself. I’m dangerous. A villain. Right?”

Butch stared, “I never said that.”

“You did. Just not with your words.” she muttered.

“You broke a state. What was I supposed to do?”

“Oh it was part of the Midwest!”

“Abbi, it was an entire state.”

“It was an accident” she snapped, “And don’t call me that!”

“You are infuriating!” Butch hissed, “I’m here trying to make a gesture and you’re just being a baby!”

“Well, forgive me if I don’t fall at the feet of the Titan heir apparent!” Abbi returned, “I’m so sorry that I can’t muster up the needed deference for your lordship! What do you care anyway? Sentinel City loves you! Kid Titan and The Radicals! Saviors of our future! Why does it bother you what I think?”

“It doesn’t” he spat, “Forget I said anything! I’m sorry I even tried! But you know what? I’m glad you’re still in here! I’m glad because it means that I don’t have to worry about you running off and destroying Cuba because you’re having a hissy fit!”

Abbi stood up, “I’m having a hissy fit? Me? Oh fine, Butch Baker. You go right ahead believing that! You might have everyone else out there fooled but not me. Empath, remember? And my shittiest of shitty psychic powers tells me everything I need to know about you and your own personal brand of tantrums. So you go right on thinking that you’re the high and mighty one! Just don’t forget that you’re as close to becoming a villain as you think I am to becoming a hero!”

Butch stared and felt himself begin to flush. Abbi stood there, panting, her fists clenched. He shook his head, “I’m out of here. I don’t have to take this. I’m not a criminal like you. So I get to leave. Have a nice life, Rita Riot.”

“Have a nice charade, Kid Titan.”

He slammed the door open and stormed out of the building. Out on the sidewalk he stopped, his head pounding, and let out a roar of frustration. He was sorely temped to walk across the street and punch the bank that was sitting there. But that was probably overkill. There were already enough passersby watching him that he was going to have to explain to his PR department. Destroying a random building on top of it was likely not the best idea. Besides, the future home of Sentinel City was still under construction so it was hardly a fair fight.

He took a deep breath. Then another. God, she was the worst. The absolute worst. Always knew how to push his buttons. What had happened to her anyway? She had been a nice kid back in the day. Back at the day camp. Butch felt his fists unclenching and his chest releasing. He looked over his shoulder toward the jail and cursed under his breath. He went back inside.

She was sitting in the corner crying when he came back. He didn’t like to see her cry. He never had. He crouched down near the bars, “I’m sorry. That wasn’t fair.”

She sniffed, “I’m sorry too.”

“You didn’t deserve that.”

Abbi raised her head and looked at him, “Neither did you. And you’re not entirely incorrect. I did the wrong thing. I have to live with that. And with what that makes me.”

Butch slid down to the floor and leaned his back against the concrete wall, “I’m sort of jealous. The biggest thing I’ve ever destroyed was a load bearing wall in an underground laboratory.”

She smirked, “Well maybe you need to take up a life of crime then.”

He laughed, “My uncle would love that.”

“It would be a great story for the nightly news. Rita Riot seduces Kid Titan to take up life of crime!”

He slid a glance towards her, “Seduces?”

She blushed, “You know what I mean.”

“Yeah. It’s got it’s perks I guess. Life on the run. Freedom. No PR gigs or personal assistants. No schedules or mall openings. Just doing what you want. Being who you want. With who you want to be with.”

“So let’s go” Abbi said quietly, “Just open the door and let’s go.”

For a moment they looked at each other and time stopped. Life hung in limbo and for a fraction of a second, Butch felt like it was an almost possible impossibility. Then he smirked. She smiled and shook her head, “Never mind. It wouldn’t work out.”

“Definitely not. I like my logo too much.”

“Well, you’d have to dodge better too. Plus you know, the main reason.”


“You’re too much of a hero to turn bad.” she said with a smile that Butch didn’t find entirely unpleasant.

He cocked his head, “What about you?”

She shrugged, “I don’t know what I am. I wanted to be normal and I’m not that. I wanted to be good and I can’t be. So what’s left?”

They fell silent, Abbi tracing a crack in the wall with her finger. She sniffed again, “Because my parents don’t have money for bail.”


She sighed, “You asked why I was still here. It’s because my parents don’t have the money to bail me out.”

“But they’re sidekicks.” Butch said.

Abbi snorted, “Not a lot of money in the sidekick racket. Plus when you have to pay damages on a state, even in the Midwest, funds get a little low. I think they’re also trying to prove a point.”

She looked over and smiled, “It’s okay. Not your problem.”

Butch opened his mouth to speak and his phone started ringing. It was his uncle. He jumped up, “Crap. I’ve got to take this!”

Abbi nodded, “Sure. See you around Butch.”

“See you around, Abbi.”

He walked out into the lobby and flipped open the phone as he reached into his back pocket, “Hello? Oh, hi Uncle Bob. Yeah, I’m here. Yeah, some new ones. Well, Teflon made bail. Rita Riot just did too.”

Choosing Destiny

Quick Disclaimer: I do not own these characters or the world they inhabit. They were created by the fabulous people at Zombie Orpheus for their equally fabulous RPG, Masters of the Metaverse!  Be sure to tune in to Twitch.TV/zombieorpheus every Monday at 6PM PST to see more!

The silent gloom hung heavy over the compound. Rosie was certain that the surveying robots would be able to hear her bones protesting. Ever since entering this Metaverse, she had felt the repulsion in her blood. Her bond with Hex acting like a magnet, propelling her away from the ground beneath her, forcing the air from her lungs. 

She was trying to not make a big deal out of it, trying not to make it all about her and her pain. She knew that that was what she should do, what Crash needed, what the team deserved. So she kept her mouth shut, her emotions suppressed to a dull grey, a monochromatic echo of the technicolor rainbow in her soul. She sat, silent and still, her mouth pressed into a hard line to keep in the screams. But pretending didn’t make it less true. It just made it harder to breathe. 

And yet. 

The others had disappeared inside the cement walls leaving her behind to watch. The avatar pushed against her and Rosie begrudgingly allowed her access. Logically she knew it was personal bias that kept her from accepting the skills she was presented with, a loyalty to Hex that prevented her from seeing this version of Griefer as anything other than a cruel cosmic joke. Truthfully, given the situation, this avatar was well equipped to make sure that the team succeeded. Whatever that meant. It didn’t mean Rosie had to like her though.

And yet.

Loki had smiled when she finally arrived, “Well, I would say I’ve been expecting you but I suppose that’s a bit of a cliche.”

“I guess.”

The old god inclined their head, “So then. Your choice?”

Rosie looked down at her hands, “Yeah. My choice.”

Choice. The word sounded so strange on her tongue. Months, years, lifetimes. How long had it been since someone had offered her a choice and meant it? How long since she had been the master of her own destiny?

The divine soul was consuming her. There was no doubt in her mind about that. And while the logical thing to do would have been to run, to push out the god and protect what was left of herself, Rosie had found that she was unable to make herself act. It seemed…right. Fitting even. To become a trickster just as she had always believed herself to be. A cowgirl who believed she was free. A pilot who believed she helped. A friend who believed she was good. The lies we tell ourselves are always the most convincing. So why not allow the Metaverse to make up for that? Why not allow the lies to become her reality? Become the vessel of Loki and spread her soul across worlds.

“I’m getting some push back from this conversation but I can’t see anything wrong with it. So I’m going to let it go.”

Rosie had seen Monday internally flinch from Butch’s words. The other woman had gone still and crumpled in on herself, the rebuke stinging far more than Butch or Crash would ever understand. But Rosie saw it and felt it in her own heart. 

Hiding behind Hex’s eyes, Rosie had listened to the conversation without any intention of interfering. The person who had written the letters, who had known the words that no one had ever said before, was now made flesh before her eyes. It was impossible to speak to someone like that. Too much like admitting her heart had been broken. But watching Monday pull away as if she had been burned, Rosie wished she could say something that mattered.

“I’m just saying you might want to talk to her. That’s all.” Monday shrugged, “I could be wrong. I probably am.”

“I have never known you to be wrong, Monday.” Rosie spoke the words before she knew they were there, “You’re pretty on it.”

She felt Hex’s eyes on her and turned away. Choices had to be made after all. 

A sudden shift in movement caught Griefer’s eye and Rosie noted that the robots were gathering around the hole in the wall with alarming speed. Clearly the team’s entrance had been located and an ambush was being set. Rosie used her uplink with Crash to relay her video feed. Then she started preparing her own countermeasures. 

“You know my dear”, Loki dripped honey, “You’ll never be truly rid of me. Frankly, my ego’s too big for it. That and I’m a god.”

Rosie shrugged, “That’s fine. But a choice is still a choice. And I know that I get to make one.”

“Of course you do. But a choice comes with a price. I know you enjoy the…benefits of our relationship. You don’t assume that that would continue unchanged, do you?” Loki flashed a brilliant smile, “I like you darling and, frankly, I cherish our mutual understanding. But I’m not a fool. And neither are you.”

Rosie looked away and felt the breath of a god in her ear, “Well? Choose.”

The ancient magic pulsed through Rosie’s fingers. She felt the shift in reality as several of the drones began manic loops around the facility, never quite reaching their destination. A sense of disappointment accompanied the realization that her illusion hadn’t been as effective as she had hoped. Only a handful of the mechanized soldiers had left off their pursuit of Crash and the others, leaving several dozen more still lying in wait for her friends to emerge from hiding. Rosie could almost hear Loki’s rueful chuckle in her ear.

“I did warn you, darling.”

Her mind began racing. She had been afraid to bring Hex’s influence into this world. Afraid that somehow the dark mirror would reflect back into 668, poisoning the home she knew as well as her own heart. Worried that if Hex knew who she was in this place, she would never forgive her. 

And yet.

“Talk to her. You’re not always going to be there to help her make the right choice.”

Crash’s words echoed in her mind and for the first time, Rosie began to wonder if she actually wasn’t the scourge she had always believed herself to be. Slowly, like the beginnings of a dream, she saw the pieces fall into place. Polar opposites. Heroes made villains, villains made good, a world gone mad. Avatars left hollow, pilots cast into stone. Hex alone in a twisted castle. Her friends no where to be found. Her soul never bound. 

This Metaverse was a twisted nightmare, an inside out game of what might have been. To hear Crash tell it, the Sentinel City they knew had been just as bad. Only their touch had helped to guide it back into the light. What if this world was the reflection of what would have come to pass if Hex Destiny had never known a person called Rosie Harvin? What if she had done some good after all?

The robots were getting restless, if such a thing was possible. Rosie knew that it was only a matter of time before they swarmed the hole and if that happened, no amount of skill or marksmanship would keep her friends safe. A flash of rainbow in the corner of her eye caused Rosie to turn. There was no one there but she got the point. 

A god’s tricks alone weren’t enough. But Loki wasn’t the only being in the Metaverse who knew magic. And they weren’t they only ones who raged against the pain inflicted by others. Monsters were monsters only by other people’s standards.

The form of Hex Destiny fit Rosie like a glove, the illusion more perfect and true than any she had made before. Even her time in the Godsverse had been a pantomime compared to this. Griefer’s memories melded with her own and the dark queen rose from the stars. Only Rosie knew her secret. That this mirrored Hex had a heart. And she held the key.

It was quiet when she had found her. Hex had turned and Rosie felt her breath catch as she realized that she had grown up without her. For a moment Rosie had almost taken a step back. Almost pulled away rather than find out that she was no longer wanted or needed by the only person she had ever deeply loved. 

Talk to her

Monday’s hand at her back, Rosie had stayed. Hex had stared and then burst into tears. It took Rosie a moment to realize that she was crying as well. And then there was no more space between them, arms and souls rejoining. 

“You chose.” Hex whispered.

“I chose.”

Once Upon A Time…

Quick Disclaimer: I do not own these characters or the world they inhabit. They were created by the fabulous people at Zombie Orpheus for their equally fabulous RPG, Masters of the Metaverse!  Be sure to tune in to Twitch.TV/zombieorpheus every Monday at 6PM PST to see more!


Once upon a time there was a small girl who grew up believing herself to be little. But her heart held magic and music, and one day the small girl changed into a brave hero. 

“There must be another way…”

The words died on the broken lips of the fallen king and he went still. The prince and the strange swan ghost bent over him, each working their own separate magics in an attempt to bring the Feathered King back from the edge. Somehow it worked and the breath returned to his chest, the beating of his heart faint but present.

But even though she was a great hero, the girl still believed herself too tiny to make any difference in the world. But she was wrong. 

Andi felt herself moving before she had the thought fully formed. Somewhere in the back of her mind an idea had come to life, worming its way down towards her fingers and toes, compelling her to act. Reaching out, she laid her hand on the chest of the king, this fellow pilot, and pushed. The veils fell away and the walls crumbled. Bodies and minds melted into vapor, reality shifting into perceived dream. In the in between, the place of self and souls, she found him. He had been a tall and proud ruler, a kind and just one, a bird without parallel. Suddenly Andi found herself worrying more than a little about Crash, alone in a world left shattered by madness.

The king was not alone and Andi could trace the line. The grotesque blackened tendril stretching back across worlds, anchoring him in insanity and despair. Andi was so tired of the darkness.

The girl had saved countless lives but still she didn’t know she was a hero. It wasn’t until she found herself whole that she started to understand. But even heroes don’t know what they do. So it’s up to us to tell them.

Her fingers wound their way into the oil slick heart, wrapping themselves around the burned out soul. She clenched her fist. And then she pulled. The scream that echoed in her ears bellowed up from the depths of hell. An empty void made flesh, desiring nothing more than to see itself reflected back in the countless mirrors within every Metaverse between here and eternity. Andi knew that it wanted her as well, to claim her soul and ride it into nightmare. But they should know by now. If anyone was going to ride anything…it was going to be her.

With every ounce of strength inside of her, Andi tore at the talons that infested the Feathered King. She felt them snapping and recoiling, springing back to the terrible being that had born them. And as she pulled and tore and yanked, her anger grew and grew until it was so great that she felt Abbi’s hand on her own, leading her back from the cliff.

It was enough. She had been through enough. They had been through enough. And the world was not so terrible as these creatures wanted it to be, needed to it be. They were trying to convince everyone and everything to give up, to allow themselves to be swallowed whole by greed, malice, hopelessness, fear, and everlasting shadow. In each oil slick, Andi saw reflections of the things that came before. Migraine, Harvester, Antonius. The dark halls of Meta End, the broken hearts of her friends, the tears of her loved ones. It was enough.

Andi felt the final pulsing thread within her grasp. She certainly hoped that wherever this malevolent force was, it could see exactly which finger she used to sever the link. 

And then it was gone. The king collapsed beside her and their souls rushed back to their bodies. Opening her eyes, Andi found that she had been holding her breath as well as his hand. The king looked at her with gratitude and hope. And she saw the darkness flee from him. 

Hex is hope.

It had worked once before. Why not again?

There once was a hero called Andi Jaymes. She saved worlds and brought down domes. She destroyed towers into heaven and rode the waves of the Metaverse to freedom. She found her heart and in turn saved a woman from a life of despair and regret. She found her family and taught an old soldier that living wasn’t so bad after all. And she is only getting started.

Monday watched from the top of the hill. The nightly bonfires had taken on a completely different tone of late. No longer riots of savage hunger and madness, they were now gathering places against the encroaching twilight. There were still dangers lurking in the shadows but there were more people to help keep them out. Blood isn’t so easily washed away.

The overwhelming sense of guilt in the world had been almost unbearable in the beginning. People ashamed of who they had allowed themselves to be, the twisted nature of their hearts so easily exposed, had shied away from others, using anger and judgement as their protection. But after a time, they had come back. Monday knew what had caused them to reconsider. His pain didn’t dampen his light even if he wished it would.

Turning away from the city, she headed off down a dirt road. On either side were abandoned fields and farms, animals allowed to run free while the denizens of the world reconsidered their place in it. Society rebuilding from the ground up, unsure of the security of the foundation. He was doing the best he could, she knew. But the holes in his soul weren’t just from the claws of a demon.

How long had she been watching them? Listening to them? Writing them? How many times had she stood just off and to the side, away and out of sight, wincing as their stories ripped them to shreds? 
She had been there the day his father held him under the water. In spite of herself, she had plunged her hands into the icy blackness, grasping for fingers she could never reach. And when he had emerged, dripping and changed, she had found herself moving to stand between him and the man who would break his heart.

That had been the first time they had talked to her, admonished her, reminded her of her place. It hadn’t been the last.

Monday stopped and squinted into the approaching gloom. It wasn’t much farther now. She could find him anywhere. She knew his heart beat too well.

“I hate company.”

She had stayed away for the first few days. Watching from afar, never coming close. Standing in the shadows, unsure if she would be seen or if it was even possible for him to find her in the dark. But no matter how far back she stayed, she never went away. Not again.

It had been on the day of the pretend funeral. A mock burial for a man who wasn’t there. Monday had hovered near him, watching as a line of people filed past, each holding his hand and whispering in his ear, driving him mad with their grief and touch. Standing at the gravesite, watching the empty box lower into the ground, Monday hadn’t been able to stop herself. She had reached out toward him, her heart aching to give some comfort to the person she had felt a friend since the moment he was born. 

In all likelihood it was a fluke, a trick of the light, a chance of the moment. But whatever it was, his eye had suddenly met hers and in that second, he turned away from her. Monday had felt herself turn to stone and she hadn’t followed him to the car. She hadn’t followed him home or anywhere else. She had left, fled, hidden in The Grey, cursing her stupidity and for assuming a bond where there never was one to begin with. She had promised herself that she would behave now, that she would never again cross the line between Chronicler and chronicled. 

But she couldn’t shut out his story.

By the time she had come back, he was knocking at the door of a secret military base. Her skin had prickled with cold dread as Jeb had reappeared, all smiles and feigned incompetence. But it was too late to run. And he had been so open. So she had stayed. She had stayed and never left, not once. 

Not even now.

Monday found him on the top of a barn. He was leaning against the small tower that held the broken and unmoving weathervane, his eyes closed and his arms folded. She knew better than to assume he was asleep. Sleeping wasn’t so simple for him. This was closer to meditation, an attempt to stop the racing inside his chest that threatened to erupt as a scream. 

She sat down quietly beside him, listening to the rhythm of his breath, “I know you hate company.”

No response. She hadn’t expected any to tell the truth. She wasn’t sure if she was able to talk to the pilots one on one. The only times she had had been through the ears of an avatar or the grace of the Metaverse. Besides, somethings are better told as bedtime stories.

She took a deep breath and began to whisper in his ear, “Once upon a time there was a boy who everyone thought was broken. But he wasn’t. His jagged parts saved the world. The boy was called Crash by his friends but his real name was Clarence. He is the hero of our story…the bright light where we begin…”

Breathing Water

Quick Disclaimer: I do not own these characters or the world they inhabit. They were created by the fabulous people at Zombie Orpheus for their equally fabulous RPG, Masters of the Metaverse!  Be sure to tune in to Twitch.TV/zombieorpheus every Monday at 6PM PST to see more!

The sun was starting to set when she made it back to the beach. Monday stopped at the edge of the water and watched the reflecting light glance across the ocean.

“You were gone when I got back.”

A voice at her shoulder made her turn. Jonathan stood there, seemingly having just appeared from nowhere. He never acknowledged it but she could tell it was a remnant from his time as Rhodes. The centuries of walking wherever he was needed had left an echo, only now he was the one who decided where he was meant to be.

“I had to go somewhere.”

He wasn’t looking at her but at a far off point on the horizon, “You were gone. And there was blood on the floor.”

All at once she smelled roses and understood. What he had thought when he had found her missing and a trail of red on the ground. What she had put him through.

“I’m sorry” she reached over, “I fell. Cut my hand. See?”

He finally looked at her and then at her hand. The palm was smudged reddish brown from where she had stuffed it into her pocket, her panic preventing her from tending to it properly before she raced back to Joe’s. He didn’t speak. Just turned and led her back to the house. Neither of them said anything until they were both sitting at the table, Jonathan gently cleaning her wound.

“Are you going to tell me?” he asked quietly, “I know I’m not Rhodes any more so technically you don’t have to.”

“I want to” she winced slightly, “I want to. I just don’t know what to say. I don’t even understand it myself.”

“Well, start at the beginning. Where did you go?”

“To Joe’s. I needed to talk to them. The pilots but also…the others.”

He nodded, “Talk to them about what?”

Monday met his gaze, his eyes quiet and intent, “About the end.”

“Of what?”

“Everything. The stories, the worlds, the Metaverse. I don’t even know. All I know is that they’re stopping. All of them. Every story in every world, every voice is falling silent at the exact same moment.”

Jonathan sat back, his hand still on hers, “Something is ending them?”

She shrugged miserably, “I don’t know. I think so. This has never happened before. And maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s because I’m fired. Maybe it’s because Zenda hasn’t brought me in yet and this is their idea of punishment. Maybe it’s because I’m not a Chronicler any more but I’m not right either. Maybe it’s all a mistake. But I don’t think it is. I can’t shake the feeling that something terrible is happening. Something that will end everything. I just don’t know what it is.”

“How did you fall?”

“It’s nothing.”

Monday started to get up and found that she couldn’t. Her hand was holding his and neither one of them would let go.

“How did you fall?” he asked again.

She sank back down into the chair, “I felt it. The ending. It was…terrifying. It unlike anything I ever experienced before. It was like not being able to breathe or see or scream. It was like drowning.”

The tears pushed back up and she willed them away, “I didn’t want them to see how scared I was. How scared I am. I don’t know what’s going to happen, Jonathan. I don’t know what comes next or how to fix this or even if it can be fixed. I just know it’s wrong.”

She didn’t tell him about the headache, the one that had started after she had gotten up off the floor. The one that was sitting right between her eyes, a constant pressure that didn’t seem likely to go away any time soon. It was part of what frightened her. She could feel it starting. Nothing more than just the idea of it and yet she knew what it was. The unraveling. For so long she had been made of stories. What happened when they were gone?

Jonathan was nodding slowly, “Okay. So you went and told them. You let them know. So they’ll fix it. They’re a force of the Metaverse, like you said.”

Monday laughed mirthlessly, “I say a lot of things.”


“He was right. Butch. He said whenever they see me, it’s generally bad news for the whole world. You know that they call that don’t you? A harbinger.”

“Hey” he gripped her gently by both hands, leaning closer to seek out her gaze, “No. Don’t do that. Okay? Trust me. As someone who has spent thousands of years believing that they caused something awful, listen to me when I say that you had nothing to do with this. Okay? You didn’t do this. You didn’t make it happen.”

He had laughed when he said it. She helped, he says she helped. And while part of her was sure that it was likely a combination of Crash’s inflection coupled with Butch’s incredulousness at the reality of someone being punished for doing the right thing, Monday couldn’t help but wonder why he had laughed. Try as she might she couldn’t keep the sound from twisting into the same mocking chuckles she had heard each time she sent in a story. 

They had tried to make her stop. First with concern for her well being. Older members coming to her with warnings of broken hearts, the pain of watching characters die, the ache of knowing that all their stories would end and she would continue on to write new ones about new people, leaving old friends behind to ash. When that didn’t work they sent rebukes and rejections, stories returned unopened and requests to try again this time with less personal attention and more objective recording. Finally they had given up and just started throwing her stories away.

Why had she ever believed she was capable of doing anything more than what she was told? She had broken the rules so many times that maybe this was her punishment. A world undone because she had tried to become something she never was. Because she had tried to help.

“Maybe I should turn myself in.”

Jonathan started, “What would that do?”

Monday shook her head, “I don’t know. Maybe nothing. Maybe something. It might fix this.”

“How?” his voice was hard, “How would it fix this?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know”, she felt the tears starting, “I don’t know Jonathan! But I have to try! I have to do something!”

“So you going to jail is the answer?”

“I don’t know.”

“You think they did this? Your Order?”

She sniffed, “No. Not really. Ending the stories ends them too. It wouldn’t make sense for it to come from them.”

“Okay. Then you’re not turning yourself in. I think even Zenda would agree with me on that.”

They sat in silence for a time. Finally Jonathan stood up and came to sit beside her. He took her hands in his and looked down at them.

“Monday, I…I spent thousands of years absolutely certain about how things would end for me. I was prepared to spend my retirement alone on a beach. If I didn’t die before then. And then one day, this strange woman gave me a hamburger. And all of a sudden that ending I had in mind didn’t seem so right any more. Day by day it changed. You did that. You changed my ending. So, if you’re telling me that all the stories are going to stop, that the world might be over…well, if there’s anyone who can help make that not happen it would be you.”

He wiped the tears from her cheeks and gently pressed her hand with his, “And if it happens that this isn’t something that anyone can fix, then I’m glad that my ending is with you. No matter how soon that ending comes. I mean, we always knew that…”

His voice trailed off and he stood up slowly, beginning to clear away the things he had used to clean her cut.

“I knew when my story would end. Even before this.”

Jonathan looked over, “What do you mean?”

Monday smiled, “Chroniclers don’t age. We’re not supposed to, we’re timeless. But we’re also not supposed to get trapped inside domes for four hundred years or push people out of the way or send letters. Things changed. I changed. I started to age. Not quite the same as everyone else but more than a Chronicler should. And the benefit of knowing the length of your story is getting to set your path.”

Taking a slow breath she continued, “I tied my narrative thread. Ten thousand years, give or take. That was how long my story had left.”

Jonathan stared, a mixed expression on his face, “You could have lived so much longer.”

“Who says I would have wanted to?”

Rising, she stood next to him and felt herself drawn into a tight embrace. How long they stood there like that she couldn’t have said. It felt as if they were in the middle of an ocean, the waves slowly pulling them down.



“Do you think people can learn to breathe water?”

Happy Anniversary

Quick Disclaimer: I do not own these characters or the world they inhabit. They were created by the fabulous people at Zombie Orpheus for their equally fabulous RPG, Masters of the Metaverse!  Be sure to tune in to Twitch.TV/zombieorpheus every Monday at 6PM PST to see more!

Walking was an underrated mode of transportation. Hex and Bombshell had taken flight soon after they had all left the diner and were likely wherever they had intended to be by now. But for some reason Abbi had felt like walking home. It was nice to finally have a moment alone with Butch, even if it was in the middle of a sidewalk in Sentinel City.


Butch looked up, “So.”

“That was an interesting anniversary.”

“It was.”

Butch frowned and then walked over to a nearby park bench, motioning her to follow him. Abbi sat down and leaned against her husband, her head resting on his shoulder. She closed her eyes and breathed.

It was very in keeping with them to have an enormous spider bot battle on their wedding anniversary. It just wouldn’t be their life if there wasn’t some kind of catastrophe happening. Not that she regretted it. She had meant it when she said that she would never look back.

Butch sighed, “I just wanted to surprise you.”

“Well, you did that” Abbi smiled, “Though to be honest I would have been happy just sharing a plate of fries with you.”

“Boom” Butch reached into his jacket and removed a small, if slightly squished, package of fries, “Wish granted.”

Abbi laughed out loud, “Nicely done Mr. Baker.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Baker.”

“Don’t get me wrong”, Abbi continued as she munched on a fry, “I love what we do. I love helping people as Titan. I love raising our kids and running the school. I love our life. I love all of it. But it’s just…at the end of the day you’re always the first person I look for. Hard to break the habit of centuries I guess.”

Butch looked down and fell silent. Abbi reached over and squeezed his hand and felt a return in pressure.

“I miss you.”

She nodded, “I miss you too.”

“I’m so proud of you. I am. I am so proud of you and what you’re doing and who you are” Butch looked up, “But I miss you. I miss us. I miss getting to…just be with you.”

“I know. I miss it too.” Abbi leaned in closer, “Maybe we need to try to do a better job. I mean we both have a tendency to give up ourselves for everyone else. Which, don’t get me wrong, is something I love about you but in a relationship it’s…hard.”

Butch pulled her closer, “So what do we do?”

“I don’t know. Try to figure it out? I mean the kids are growing up. They’re teenagers now. They need us more but also less. Maybe Hex had a point about knowing where they’re coming from. It’s not such a bad idea to let her and Bombshell help out right?”

Butch grimaced, “Right. I mean one of them is a super genius who can change the fabric of reality and the other is Bombshell. In theory they can’t cause any more damage than our group of would be engineers did today. Actually, scratch that. Bombshell did make the giant spider bot.”

“So tell me the truth” Abbi looked up, “Did you simultaneously plan the absolute worst surprise party in the world as well as the most ill advised session of breaking and entering just so we could have a moment alone?”

“I’m shocked that you would think me capable of such a thing. I would never” Butch said, “I mean just because I mentioned to the kids that there was a jet engine within teleportation distance of the school and that Armor Guy tends to use the same passcode on all his doors doesn’t mean that I was planning something. I certainly wasn’t planning for Bombshell to decide that it was better to fight one giant civilian endangering sized spider bot instead of twenty squishable soccer ball sized spider bots.”

“Well, that’s Bombshell for you.”

“At least it got her and Hex to stop talking about babies for a few minutes.”

Abbi looked down, “What do you think about all that?”

Butch stopped, “Babies?”


“I don’t know. I mean we talked about it before, when we got married. We said that there were too many kids without homes.”

She nodded, “We did. And plus given what we are…but, what do you think about it now?”

Butch shifted to get a better look at her, “Are you asking me if I want to have your baby?”

Abbi laughed, “Something like that.”

“I don’t know. I mean have I thought about it since? Yeah. Of course. But I…we…we never…”

“We never have the time to talk about it” Abbi finished, “I know. That’s what I kept trying to tell them.”


“I…I’m not saying yes. But I’m not saying no either. I guess I’m saying…maybe we should try to find time to talk about it. Just the two of us.”

He smiled, “Sure. I like that plan.”

“And for what it’s worth, I think you are an amazing man and an incredible father to all one hundred of our adopted children. And you make some very tasty chili. If we decide to have a child of our own, none of that would change. It would only be more true.”

Butch pulled her closer and Abbi snuggled in against the early evening chill. In the distance she could see the outline of the school, the exterior lights starting to come on. It really was a beautiful city. It was easy to lose sight of that after everything they had been through. But in spite of it all, in spite of the memory wipes, the domes, the half crazed false gods, and the spider bots, it was still the place that held her home and her heart.

Luckily for her they were both the same person.

“Oh” Abbi reached into her pocket, “One last gift.”

“This doesn’t have anything to do with what we were just talking about does it?” Butch said, looking dubiously down at the small box she had placed in his hand.

“Just open it.”

He did so. It was a wooden box filled with pieces of stone. Mixed in amongst the pebbles were small strips of paper, a business card, and tiny pieces of fabric.

“Thank you for my box of…trash?”

Abbi smirked, “It’s not trash. I mean technically it probably is, but it’s not trash.”

Butch lifted out the business card, “Butch Baker, Private Detective.”

“Funny thing about memory wipes. They take away the knowledge of something but the memory still exists somewhere in the world. There are still physical pieces of it scattered about” Abbi entwined her fingers with his, “It started after Rushmore. I would wake up after a reset and find something in my hand. Little things that didn’t make any sense. I think the first time it was an accident. Just grabbing on to something as I fell. But after that…after that I think it was a way of leaving myself a trail of bread crumbs. Even when I didn’t understand what they were, I couldn’t bring myself to throw them away. So I started putting them in a box. All these random things that didn’t make sense but felt like something. A piece of rubble from a monument that wasn’t there any more. A part of a bank that needed to be cleaned up after it was punched. A business card with a phone number that connected to an answering machine. Parts of costumes that tore away.”

She sat up,”It’s all there. All four hundred plus years of it. Of us. And I thought that maybe today was the day for you to have it. Because I’ll give you whatever you want. Whatever you want, whenever you want it. Even the moments you thought were lost.”

He gazed at her for a long time and then leaned over and kissed her, “Happy Anniversary, Mrs. Baker.”

“Happy Anniversary, Mr. Baker.”

Leaning his forehead against hers, Butch smiled “Hi Abbi.”

She smiled back, “Hi Butch.”