Nuclear Winter in my Heart

The following was found written on crumpled up pieces of paper in a waste bin near Jack's bedside inside her basement. I post this in fear of what will happen if Jack doesn't speak to someone. She's turning Hollow in front of my eyes. She loses more of her humanity the more time goes by, becoming one of Them.

Fusing her soul back together with the others that have passed

She is slowly taking back the fragments of her soul from the other dead Dias
Lilith gave up her being the Convocation. Says she has things to do, soon. 
That she must prepare.
Jack is slowly becoming whole.

But with every addition lifespan added to her memories..

Her heart breaks a bit more
She becomes more eldritch
Her face more drawn, her eyes more twisted looking
Her hair, once short, now falls to her hips
Waves of midnight blue, shining in the light
Her perpetual smirk and glare as she looks at the world
She loves us all, but you would be surprised how much hate is inside her

Still, the jade dragon stays pure

Shining with a green light where it lay on her chest
It shines all the time now
Like it is feeding off of her soul, and yet..
No darkness has infected it

I fear her soul has undergone so much pain and suffering that she has burned off her evil

Whatever darkness was inside her spiritually is gone
And yet her mind and her heart cry out
So many dead people
So many deaths
So many times her heart was broken
She remembers every moment of torture
Every death
All in a constant loop of pain that you can see behind her eyes

She never truly sleeps

She just sits like a gargoyle on a chair or a couch, watching people intently
Observing them
Like a researcher taking notes for an experiment
She is so scared of us..

But that is neither here nor there.

As she hobbles around Sanctuary on that godawful staff of hers, I post this.

She has injured and wounded more than a dozen of the proxy Rabbits.

Muttering something about, "I owe you more than this, now shut up"
Taking her revenge against Star, and Bael, and the world, against those that wronged any of the Dias
She leaves them alive.. barely.

The world needs to know how badly Jack's hurting right now. Our leader. The one that made a safe place for us all is going full blown hollow, with a cold and black heart as she tries to save us all.

I reach for you beside me in the bed, hand hitting nothing as my fingertips graze the cold bedsheets

I toss and i turn each night, looking for you always, in every corner of my dreaming world
my body still doesn't understand that you are gone
it mourns you like the dead
My Bael, my lover, my husband
Does this make me a widower?

I loved and I loved and I loved
All three of us,
A flower, a valkyrie of a woman and a reaper to boot, and a succubus
We loved with all our hearts
Our heart
We have always loved you
Every lifetime
Every death, somewhere somehow, we were in each other's lives
Hundreds of years, we loved and fought and killed each other
Spanning back to the darkest timeline, to my timeline

I tried so hard to tell you
My husband is only an ex because you wouldn't sign papers this time
My Bael
My beautiful, fantastic, strong, gorgeous, honey eyed and ebony haired demon
Hair slicked back, eyes burning red with lust for blood, lust for me
Oh, how we fucked, each day and each night
We lived and breathed for each other
We put Joker and Harley to shame

You were my King, my halfbreed demon King
I knew the day you saved me when I fell from the tree
I looked up at you, and even as a dirty brat reaper child, i knew
you were the one i would love, then and forever
i laid in the bed for months with a broken leg after that
broken arm? huh. the details escape me

but what i do remember is you
sitting with me, bringing me food, reading to me.. singing to me
they all thought i was too young to love, to know what it really was
i guess it was just like this time
no one ever had faith in me, in my heart, in my love, in my goodness
i wish you all had 
i'm a reaper, your Queen, your Princess, your wife of so many years

People wonder why I love you the way I do
Why I defend your name in every breath
You have been mine so long I don't understand what it is to not be yours
The years from 15 onward were a fluke
I should have been with you
I should have been able to have YOUR child
Mal would have been yours in truth
We'd have three or four kids by now

But everyone was so afraid of fucking with me or my family
Not realizing my father allowed Taishan around because he connected me to you
He never said a word about my lovers being older, because..
He was always hoping I would find my way to you
He knew I would never be happy without you by my side
He so hoped I would find you and settle down early
But sadly, he died before i grew the courage to leave Taishan.

Stuck in the Tower.. for four years
Four years of Hell on Earth. Torture and damnation and broken heartedness.
I finally escaped, Liliana finally found her voice
And Sabine finally broke free of her cage
Annihilated that poor foolish wolf with words and fists
She beat Taishan to the ground, left him with scratches and bruises
Yellow and green and purple

I should have beaten you the same way
I should have beaten you into the dirt in any dirty way i could find
With a pipe, with a knife, with anything I could find
That is how I was raised

Demand respect, even if it must be behind a knife or a gun
Never back down
Never give up hope
Always represent the family
Always love
Forgive but do not forget
My father would tell people all the time, "Don't forget we know how to hide bodies."
It wasn't just animals buried in our yard
The bamboo forest on my land was also a graveyard

Half breed wolves patrolled our yard, 
Hell, one was buried at the base of the gate to the driveway
Always to watch over, always to love us
The wolves and animals have always obeyed me
I used to nurse baby squirrels to health
Take in stray dogs and cats CONSTANTLY
Help protect the nests to birds whose parents had gotten wounded
Collected birds' nests
Grew roses of every color
Grew roses, and gardenias, and sweet olive, and wolfwood, and bamboo, and oak, and cypress, and pine. 
Oranges, and limes, and bananas, and pears, japanese plum, tangerines
I had weeping willows in our backyard
A hothouse garden on the porch
A wildflower garden of mine by the driveway
A fortune in furniture, and toys, and books, and games

Our family was the rich version of poor
I grew up a Cherokee girl
A deadly smart and viciously angry, violent, child
I was killer as a marksman
I knew my way around a shotgun like most kids knew their Gameboys
My father would teach me how to hunt
First deer I ever met I scared away, yelling "Run away deer"
My dad couldn't even be mad, I was so soft hearted
The world changed me
We used to fish constantly, we had more fishing rods than people

And boy did we have a big family
My grandmother and i in one room,
My uncle and cousin in another room
My father in his room
My cousin on the blow up mattress in the piano room
My rapist uncle living in the camper outside
My aunt Barbara who hated everyone but my father
Her husband, their two children John and Matt
They lived somewhere else, but god did they love us

Raised biblical, like a farmer, like a Cherokee girl
Old school, respect is key
Beaten with tree limbs and extension cords
The buckle ends of belts
Beaten into the ground for backtalking
Knocked upside the head

We had a trick in our family far worse than picking cherries
Forced to stand with one foot halfway off the ground, frozen
With your hands outwards and your palms up
Forced to hold books, one for every time you talked back or fucked up
And oh they would pick heavy books
Hardback gigantic books
Nose to the wall, feet to the wall
For sometimes hours on end, sometimes they would forget us

I suppose I wanted to tell you all the things I'll never get a chance to show you
Wanted you to know who I was before Taishan ruined me
Let you see who your best friend used to be
Who.. well. Amanda was. My real name. The girl that died.

Amanda's been gone for 10 years. She died before you left.
Someone held her against a wall and choked her until she lost consciousness
Because he proposed, and that one didn't like that
He tried to kill Amanda two days after he proposed
And to be honest, mostly succeeded

She fused entirely with Liliana at this point to create Lilith

Amanda is gone, and has been such a long time
The secret that I've been keeping from you is that your best friend is gone
She never survived the Tower, sweetheart.

I'm all that's left of her. Jack. Dia. 
Fuck my real name. 
Sabine fled.
Lili.. Lili fused with me.

There's only one person in here now.
It isn't Amanda. Or Lili. Or Sabine. 
It's just Jack. Your Dia. Your baby.
I was always the main, but you begged so much for Lili
I wanted you to be happy
For Bael to get to be with his best friend
And so we lied about Amanda not having fused with anyone
We pretended Lili was Amanda, because goodness did she make you happy
And she.. kinda was.. Amanda. Sort of. Mostly.
But we hate that name. Always have and always will.

I mourn you, Bael. Your name is still going on my ribcage.
Your real name.
I'm always going to love you.
I will wear your ring until the day I let you go.
And probably still past that.
Whatever is walking around wearing your face is no angel
But I will always love you, demon or angel

We are oil and water. Fire and gasoline. 
Explosive, beautiful, but fated to burn out as your passion for me died out.
I nearly killed Lili and Sabine trying to save you from yourself.
I nearly died.
I will miss you til the day I fucking die.
But.. you're my ex-husband for a reason.
Whoever you are is a stranger.
I want my best friend back.



Near a bend in the path, I walked along what looked to be a concrete road in the middle of nowhere. The trees looked sickened the further you looked away from the path. I was travelling back to Overland via the Rabbit Hole, but had to make it back to the rift in the path first. There are no shortcuts back home, no easy answers, no cheat codes. Just.. what felt like endless walking.

Tag was close by, flitting between the trees, functioning as an advance scouter in his shadow form.

I appeared to be alone, carrying a worn and frayed backpack, looking sad and downtrodden.

There was the sound of a snapping twig, coming from a group of particularly unhappy looking trees, clearly warped from their time in on the Path. Out from behind the trees, a grinning young man stepped forward. He looked to be dressed in an old-school gangster outfit, from the 1920's.

A black fedora, a long black trench coat atop a nice looking vest and suit with tie.

The man was blonde, standing roughly 6'1" with ghostly pale skin, and what should have been light blue eyes.

In the dim light, there appeared to be an unnatural yellow glow about his eyes.

"Well, well, well... Look what we have here. My old pal Dia, or Jack... Or whatever it is you are calling yourself these days. Long time no... hmmm... We haven't actually met in person, have we?" He said, with a clearly feigned tone of politeness masking... something.

I paused mid-step, nearly falling over in my shock. Quite a many years ago, I had been in contact with a particularly vicious proxy by the name of Morningstar. Known for killing babies and occasionally feeling bad about it, Star was one of those few people I had actually been grateful to hear was dead. Somehow, meeting Star for the first time on the Path felt.. wrong. Ominous.

The kind of situation to flee from.

"....Morningstar? How the fuck are you alive?"

He tilted his head, studying the reaction without a change in expression, which remained a cheery grin. "Hmmm...? So you DO recognize me? How flattering." He walked a bit further onto the path, glancing pointedly into the trees and holding his arms outstretched to his side.

"Alive though? Now that is debatable."

I narrowed my eyes at Star, alarmed by his demeanor. In previous altercations with the various Morningstars across the timelines, he had always been more.. animated. Energetic. Like the kind of personality you would imagine a happy crackhead would have.

He had always appeared in the past to be equally dangerous, but less.. obviously so. This Star, this Star was not who he had been in the past. "I'm not technically alive, but I'm still walking around with a pulse. My weird shit is thanks to the Bleeding Tree. What's your excuse?"

He began giggling loudly, and began circling around me slowly.

"Heheheheheh. A HEALTHY DIET OF COURSE! And lots of exercise. Couple that with what... was." He visibly seems less happy upon saying this last word. "A stress free work environment." He kept his arms raised, though one slowly lowered while the other visibly rose.

I smirked slightly, eyeing the proxy's expression with amusement. "Awww. Did you get downsized?"

Morningstar's smile reappeared, but without any kind of an attempt to disguise its unpleasantness.

"Heheheh... Quite the opposite, in fact. Gotta say... never expected you of all people to become someone important to the... Grand Scheme of things. Well DONE, indeed! Indeedy, deedy do..."

He began looking me over, as if trying to find something.

The yellow glow within his eyes became a bit more visible as he did so.

I became visibly more uncomfortable, shifting my feet as I did so. Star had always been a bit of a basketcase, but there was something almost.. friendly in his personality in the past. Like when he killed you, he was doing it purely for the fun of it. The ugliness of his current expression, that scared me the most. The yellow glow to his eyes could only mean one thing.. an association with the angels.

"I've always been a player in this shitty game, Star. You just weren't supposed to know about it." 

"A bit player, maybe. You've gone off-script. They aren't happy about that, and as for me..." 

The glow dimmed back to what it was moments prior, and he stopped his examination, staring me in the eyes. "I'm afraid I have some grievances I would like to share, about you and your shitty establishment." He began moving the arm he had raised in the air. The lower arm moved only slightly, and a blade fell into his hand.

In a blur, he spun on his heel to throw the knife outwards into the forest. 

The sound of a wet thud came as the blade impacted with flesh.

Tag groaned and yelled out into the distance. 

"Hey, fuck you too, buddy!" 

Over the radio, a haggard breath and hoarse whisper came through.

"Sorry, Jack. Guess he found my hiding spot."

Tag's radio went silent and he fell out of a tree, his body going solid as he hit the forest floor. 

Morningstar began cackling loudly and walked over in Tag's direction, back turned to me.

Tag weakly groaned and held his stomach, the knife embedded deeply into his flesh. 

I cried out Tag's name in shock, distraught. My stupid ass had gotten distracted by what Morningstar was doing with his left hand when I really should have been watching his right. My confidence in Tag's positioning and secrecy in his shadow form had made me arrogant and foolish.

"Tag, teleport! Get the fuck out of here!" 

"I can't move. Something's.. wrong."

"Whatever he's done.. makes this knife really fucking painful." 

"BULLSEYE! DAMN I'M GOOD." Morningstar danced in place while standing over Tag, giggling.

Tag weakly raised his hand and flipped off Star in rage and indignance.

"Lucky shot, you asshole." Morningstar pressed his foot down on the knife.

"Heheheheheh, oh MAN have I wanted to do that for a while now!"


Tag stifled a scream and continued to glare at Star.

"You're wasting your breath, Star. That bitch happens to be someone I kind of like."

"And it's better supporting her than working for some faceless fuck with a dismemberment fetish."

Star leaned down to get in Tag's face. "Hope you're enjoying this, because its gonna get a whole lot worse real soon now." He began ripping at Tag's radio pack, pulling it off and tearing it apart with his bare hands. "Heheheheh. But first, I have to have a word with your new boss, all private-like, so if you don't mind..." He gave Tag a hard kick, booting him off of the Path.


Tag disappeared from view and screamed as he fell off the path, bleeding heavily.

"Star, what the fuck? You know I help Them! It's my fucking job to keep Them appeased and inform the humans of their role in the Great Game! They TOLD ME I'm allowed to help them! I just can't directly attack them! So where the fuck are you getting this traitor shit?" 

"HAVE FUN BLEEDING OUT JACKASS!" Star yelled at Tag, before turning back to me with a glare. "You really are arrogant, you know? Thinking you can negotiate with Gods on even terms. Thinking you can deny them their rightful prey with your shitty little sanctuary."

"Well... I'm here to tell you that while your little pact may keep them out, their loyal servants will continue to do their ACTUAL WILL!"

"You might be immortal, but you might not be. Heheheheh, oh man I look forward to testing out that immortality. HAHAHAHAHA, we'll have so much FUN! And those idiots at your sanctuary will be soooooooo fucking worried, and scared, and pathetic to watch. And when I start sending them little pieces of you, they will lose hope. All that HOPE you've given them, gone in an instant. God DAMN, it is going to be beautiful. Almost as lovely as your screams are gonna be."

Morningstar began grinning like a lunatic. "But you know, maybe I can start the collective torture of your dumbfuck victim community with a more innocent target, than tainted filth like you. You can't die, but I think I know of a way to make you LONG for it, better than any physical torture I could do. Hell, maybe I could even have both, but you know..."

He dropped his grin for a small, warm smile.

"Kids are so much harder to keep alive, under the knife, than their idiot mommies."

I froze in my tracks, abandoning my effort to follow Tag through the rift.

Palming the holster for my blades, I unlatched the top and said in my most sadistically sweet voice, "What the fuck did you just say to me?"

"I know you didn't just threaten any of the kids under my care. Because that, that my friend will get you deader than a doornail with a quickness."

Morningstar tilted his head, grinning. "Ooooh, did I touch a nerve? Heheheheheh. Can't say that this one is under your care though. Shitty parent that you are, and believe me I know shitty parents." He took a step backwards, off the safety of the Path. "Hmmm. Maybe I'll go play babysitter for a while, instead of wasting my time here with you. How does that sound?"

My smile widened and curled up at the edges, barring my teeth as I did so. "My kids are dead. Try again, fuckface. Or rather, don't. No matter who the fuck you think you found, I can't let you leave to hurt them. You know that, right?" Morningstar began laughing loudly, clutching his sides.

"DEAD? HA. SO WAS I. SO WERE YOU. LOOK AT WHAT KIND OF FUCKED UP WORLD WE LIVE IN NOW!" He abruptly stopped laughing and began backing up further, drawing a new pair of knives. "But death sucks, don't it? Heheheheh. If you want to stop me from showing an innocent child that little factoid, you'll have to stop me." He quickly turned and bolted into the woods.

I narrowed my eyes and took off after him, putting on considerably more speed than I normally would. "Morningstar, I swear to fucking god, I'm going to fucking annihilate you."

Tree branches and spiderwebs slapped me in the face as I crossed over the woodline at the edge of the Path. I slapped them away absentmindedly, too angry to much care about the scratches being inflicted to my face. Morningstar kept running, but seemingly did not make any abrupt turns until he was sure I can see him. He kept his speed just fast enough that I had to flat out sprint to keep up, but not so fast that I ever fell behind.

After the third time I tripped over a tree root, I threw my head back and screamed out in rage, "WHAT THE FUCK DID I EVER DO TO YOU?!!!!"

"I thought we were FRIENDS! Most of the other versions of you were, at least." After seeing me trip, Star waited, leaning on a nearby tree. Upon hearing the word 'friends' come out of my mouth, he abruptly began laughing so hard he almost doubled over.

As I listened to his laughter, my world faded to red, ringed at the edges with encroaching darkness.

What this sick fuck didn't realize was that I was telling the truth, and that by laughing he had committed a cardinal sin:

Calling me a fucking liar.

At this point, I stopped caring about why the yellow eyed bastard was doing what he was doing.

It didn't matter. This was not my friend. This was a threat to the children of Sanctuary. If I had anything to do with it, he was going to die.

I climbed to my feet and launched myself at his center body mass, hoping to knock him down and get him within stabbing range. Flighty bastard was too fast for my throwing knives to have any point or purpose at all. Morningstar was able to briefly stifle his laughter enough to notice my attempting to tackle him. He readied a knife to stab me as I drew close, not caring about the impending tackle itself. I flinched back to the side at the last moment, avoiding a direct impact and earning myself a deep graze to my upper arm for my trouble.

I paid for my dodge dearly though, and lost my balance, stumbling on my feet and trying desperately to regain solid footing. Star grinned as he mentally noted the stumble and kicked the leg closest to him to ensure I completely lost my balance.

My knee made a sickening crunching sound, and I fell hard to the ground. Pulses of pain spread up my leg, bringing me to tears and blurring my vision. I realized then that Star, this Star, was more dangerous than the others. Something was wrong. Off.

I just couldn't understand what made that drastic a difference in his ability level.

Star didn't follow up with any sort of attack. He simply stared down at me, smirking. "Oh, now this is just SAD. Our immortal lord lady of sanctuary doing stupid shit like this. Heheh. You really have no idea what happened to me, do you?" He continued to stand, smirking, stretching his arms wide.

Putting pressure on my knee with both hands to try to ease the pain, I looked up at him with hatred. "Immortal. Not invulnerable." 

"Heh. That's gotta suck." He promptly kicked me in the face. I grabbed onto his ankle in an attempt to hold him still long enough to stab his feet and distract him long enough to get up. 

As I grabbed the foot, it detached from Morningstar's leg, an inky black liquid spraying from the stump. Morningstar showed no immediate reaction, though his facial features appeared to begin slowly drifting oddly on his head. His mouth in particular began expanding and became maw-like, with many blackened jagged shard-like teeth becoming visible.

His eyes glowed brightly with the yellow light. I recoiled back in horror, my previous plan abandoned. Tiny black droplets of.. ooze?.. rained down on my skin and began to burn, the burn sites visibly smoking on impact. "....what the fuck?!"

Morningstar's horrible maw, black and oozing, leaned down close to my face, the teeth undulating erratically. My eyes grew wide and I began backpedaling with my arms as quickly as I could.

"I am NOT shark food!"

Morningstar's form began stepping forward in pursuit, clothes now leaking the black substance, every footfall detaching from the legs, leaving behind a mushed imitation of Morningstar's shoes. A slow gurgling noise like pained breathing emitted from the maw as it slowly lurched forward.

My face paled. I frantically rubbed at my eyes with a shirt sleeve to try to clear my vision of the tears, scared fucking shitless. I grabbed onto a nearby tree, pulling myself up to a pained stance. Leaning on the tree heavily, I frantically cast my head around, looking for Tag, Priest, ANYONE.

"Where the fuck are my reinforcements?! I'm a red mage, not a fighter! Fuck this shit!"

The figure who was once Morningstar staggered as close as it could to me, leaning down close to my face. I could feel a surprisingly icy breeze coming from within the grotesque maw.

"Boo!" Morningstar's voice came from within the maw, followed by a gurgling imitation of Star's usual laughter, as the figure straightened. His face began to restore itself to a more normal state, the eyes fully yellow and filled with glee. "Now do you see?" Morningstar's voice came from the slowly restoring head, but was not yet back to 'normal.' It came out deep and layered, with a secondary voice more like Morningstar's own. "I'll feast later. Now? Now is for SCREAMING."

I glared up at the freaky fucking creature in front of me, shaking like a leaf, and bit my lip hard enough to draw blood to prevent myself from screaming on command. The temptation was right there.. to give in. To maybe save some part of my sanity and the mostly whole state of my body.

Morningstar's form constantly shifted and flowed, almost as if it were actively drawing in the light around it and.. eating it? If an amorphous blob could be smug and sated, Morningstar accomplished it in spades. If my life weren't in danger, I'd probably have enjoyed painting it..

Fuck. No. Focus. This was not the time to get lost in my head again.

This was too important a damned situation.

I shot him a pained look, stopped biting my lip, and actively spit what blood had collected in my mouth out at Star, striking him on his legs.

The blood, upon striking Morningstar's leg, seemed to meld into the surface. His face, meanwhile, had finally reformed back into a flawless imitation of what he looked like in life. The eyes dulled back to merely the hint of a yellow glow, behind the natural blue. "Ah... That is better. Yum... Immortal blood. Really doesn't taste all that different from normal blood... Kinda disappointing." He grabbed his head with his hands and cracked his neck harshly. "Whelp. Shall we begin?"

Morningstar delivered a hard kick to my torso. "Doctor Morningstar's log, star date... Whatever today is. Subject is the allegedly 'immortal' shitstain codenamed DIA. Or Jack. Or something. Who really gives a shit?" I recoiled and attempted to curl into a ball on my side to minimize further damage, internally documenting my wounds and potential damages:

Knee? Broke as fuck.

Arm? Sluggishly bleeding, relatively minor.

Ribs? Oh so fractured, if not broken.

I took a shallow breath and winced.

There was a good chance one of my ribs was attempting to pierce a lung. Fuck it. "Hey Luke, looks like you're still having trouble getting it up. You being a blob and all. Is this how you get your kicks? Hurting the people around you so you don't have to own up to your own fucked up life?" 

He paused for a moment. "Hmmm. Despite immortality, subject is clearly an idiot who forgot..." He pulled out a new knife. "I. AM. NOT. FUCKING. ALIVE." Each word was punctuated by a slice with the knife, along the body, arms or face. The final word is punctuated by a stab to the shoulder.


His voice dropped to a growl, and he briefly, fully, dropped the facade of gleeful sadism, showing only a truly immense amount of anger and hate.

"... YOU and your little Sanctuary, are gonna fuck that up TOO. Not THIS TIME, you hear me? I'm gonna burn it to the ground, make a new river of blood to run through heaven. Every man, woman and child in that goddamn place. They are all dead, you hear me? I hate them, I hate YOU, I hate ALL OF YOU..." He paused and visibly tried to compose himself.

I screamed, finally, long and shrill. The blade had hit directly into the space between the bones of my arm and shoulder, wrenching and tearing on its way in. The muscles to my arm burned and were cut loose from their original positioning, and my arm fell limp. I attempted to lift it.. failing horribly, making myself scream once more.

I caught my breath and started bitching at him again, the only distraction to my pain I had available.

"You're the one that made all those fucked up choices. You can change at any fucking time, and you don't. I think you like being fucked up."

"For that matter, I think you're jealous. That you wound up a brute of an underling, the definition of a mindless minion, while I.. gosh. I wound up the leader of the neutral faction, getting a paycheck for doing shit for the Fears I'd have done anyway, and oh yeah... I actually have people that care."

"I think it tears you up inside, that I thrived and flourished despite all the pain I went through, while you.. you just twisted and bent and corrupted."

"All you are and ever will be, if your eyes are any indication, is Their fucking puppet."

Morningstar glared down silently at me for a long moment, before smiling again, pacing around me. "Subject, despite being immortal, can obviously feel pain. No sign of any form of... regeneration. Does this mean she heals like a normal fucking person? Cause that would suck. More testing is required. Using the scientific method, my doctorate tells me that I should try calculated and precise application of blunt force."

He proceeded to do exactly that, stomping my face into the ground repeatedly.

With every kick, he yelled out, "THIS IS VERY, VERY DELICATE WORK!"


In between stomps of his foot, I growled back at him, "Doctorate stomp my stomp fucking stomp ASS! You stole that degree and you know it, you hack!"

My cheekbone shattered beneath one kick. My nose, under the force of another. Blood began to flow into my eyes and seeing his fucked up form in front of me became difficult.

"DAMN RIGHT, I DID! Stole it fair and square. That guy won't need it anymore, after all."

He resumed pacing a bit, looking down at me with a smirk. "Hmmm. Subject displays no great resistance to precise application of blunt force. FASCINATING. Perhaps subject is resistant to digestion? Maybe... Heals from broken bones quickly? So many options to CHOOSE. Hey, Subject Dia, you have any preferences? Be honest now, this is for science."

I tried to lift my hand to flip him off, couldn't get it off the ground. A thunderbolt of pain went through my shoulder and I began actively crying, but I refused to make a sound.

I was far from in the mood to cater to his whims.

"Preference..?" I coughed wetly. "For.. you.. To go.. FUCK... YOURSELF."

"WAIT. BETTER IDEA. BEST IDEA. WE WILL TEST THE SUBJECT'S RESISTANCE TO BEING STRANGLED TO DEATH." He reached out to grab my throat and hoist me into the air, knowing the nasty effect the Azoth that made up his hand would have on me. It burned everywhere that his hand made contact with my skin, corroding the flesh it touched. With my good arm, I weakly reached up to try to pull his hand away, knowing it was fruitless. Doing it anyway.

The terror on my face slowly melted into acceptance. I knew I would still be bound to my shell.

Nothing mattered at this point.

"Awww... Would you look at that! The subject has accepted her fate. I guess the strangling won't do much of anything, but it should make her a bit easier to drag back home. Then... then we can really test this so-called immortality. Worst comes to worst, and I can't kill you? I'll just dump your ass in the Empty City, to be lost forever... Or worse. Heheheheh." Morningstar continued strangling me with one hand, but after a minute or so abruptly stopped and looked off behind him into the forest. 

The sound of breaking tree limbs and heavy footfalls came from deep in the forest behind Morningstar's back, alarming what birds inhabited the trees into flight.

A lean, athletic figure wrapped in flowing white robes tore through the nearby brush, skidding to a stop a few feet away from the clearing. A long, dusky skinned arm emerged from the folds of the fabric to grab hold of the hood and pull the robes off in one fluid motion, leaving the figure fully visible. Bael was a colossal figure, for sure, towering over nearly everyone he ever met at near 7ft tall. He was an olive-skinned man with densely corded muscles, clothed in red and black as a rule. On this day, he appeared as what you would expect a typical businessman to:

He wore a maroon button down t-shirt, somehow still immaculately buttoned and centered.
Neatly pressed black slacks that fell to barely brush the tops of his matte black harness boots.
A black leather belt adorned with grinning skulls for the buckle. (His one vain allowance).

Ebony strands of tousled hair fell into his eyes just so, clearly a carefully constructed style of his. His eyes shone brown with a barely visible red tint, his mouth turned up at one end in a smirk.

"Just in time for the party, I see."

Bael moved slowly and carefully, his eyes still on Morningstar the whole time, striding forward purposefully as he withdrew a long and curved but clearly flawed scythe from behind his back.

"That woman you're strangling? Happens to be my ex-wife, and I would greatly appreciate if you let her down now before you do any damage you aren't willing to have done to yourself."

Morningstar glanced at Bael with a touch of disdain, and looked past him to where he could sense the others lagging behind. "Oh now this is rich." He glanced back to me with a smile. "Excuse me for just a second." As he finished speaking, his jaw dislocated and extended, revealing a maw of needle like teeth before he bit down on my throat, and dropped me back to the ground.

I screamed like a banshee lit aflame, blood cascading down my front as I crumpled to the ground in a heap. Already struggling to hold onto consciousness, I felt the inky black tendrils of oblivion pulling at the edges of my mind, whispering to me of how easy it would be to just... let go.

I blinked madly, trying to see through the curly waves of midnight hair falling in my face, knowing damn well I couldn't brush them aside to see in my current physical state. "Bael.... p l e a s e..."

Morningstar smirked down at me, before turning back to Bael. "Oops. She isn't looking so good, pal. Don't worry though, I can help her pull through it. I am a doctor after all..."

He seemingly noticed something off about Bael. "... Huh. Speaking as a doctor, you don't seem so normal yourself. Reminds me of something..." His eyes glow more yellow as he stares at Bael with a look of confusion. Bael's smirk grew by a fraction as he watched Morningstar become ill at ease.

"Little boy, you are no more a doctor than I am an anteater."

The tint of his eyes grew in strength and hue until his pupils were no longer visible, and his sclera took over to become twin shining pools of red. Sparks of light began to emit from his form, focusing on his hands. "I do believe you are out of your league here. It would be wise to run, Schiffer."

Morningstar took a step backwards, glaring at Bael upon being referred to as 'Schiffer.' He muttered to himself, "What in the goddamn... I didn't know about this... What the fuck..."

His form began to shift into a less solid state, as he continued to back up. 

Bael's eyes sparked malevolently as Star spoke. "I suspect there are many things you don't know, abomination. Whose hand was in your creation? Samael? How convenient of the Angels, to color code themselves for us. Toxic little rainbow that they are."

He sinuously moved forward, his weapon hand absentmindedly twirling the scythe in slow circles. Slowly pursuing Morningstar as if he had all the time in the world.

"Did They not warn you there were Others out there? Did you truly think you were the only one?"

"Yeah... I think it's time to go..." His already fluid form sagged and melted, losing all features until it finally splattered, shapeless, to the ground. The oily, black, liquid form coalesced and began slithering away into the forest.

Bael stuck his hand in his back pocket, withdrawing a small round object. Rearing back, he threw the object with force, causing it to land roughly fifteen feet ahead of Star's retreating form. 

The black puddle of Azoth visibly tried to slow itself down and move a different direction, but it was too late. As fire erupted from the incendiary, the puddle that was Morningstar was set ablaze. It began to writhe, and a screeching noise emitted from the center, in a voice very different from Morningstar's normal one. As it flailed and writhed, it began breaking apart, and the smaller pieces began dispersing in random directions, most still ablaze. 

Bael lost interest in the retreating form, seemingly satisfied with the blaze he created.

He turned and rushed forward towards my limp form, absentmindedly storing his weapon as he did so. "Dia, baby, talk to me. Are you still with us? Nod your head if you can. Blink if you must."

I stared up at him as if in a dream, my grim knight come to the rescue. I must have blinked at some point, as Bael nodded in satisfaction and bent to pick me up. I screamed once more as he lifted me, the jostling near unavoidable due to my injuries.

Bael told me later, as I was waking up from the anesthesia of the emergency surgery to save me from my injuries, that I passed out in his arms. He lifted me as gently as he could, and brought me through the rift that brought us to the Rabbit Hole on the Sanctuary Grounds.

I was apparently received with great shock and distress towards my state of being, as there had been an attack on Sanctuary in my delay getting across the divide to Overland. More on that later.

Bael is telling me there is much he needs to discuss with me.

....forgive me if my only reaction to that right now is, "Oh shit."


Poison is but medicine in the wrong dosage

While the Culling was still going on, I had a surprise visitor.

Another of my ex-husbands, The Advocate.

Mask on, he appeared close enough to reach out and touch me, but had his arms crossed.

A sidearm on his hip, he seemed to be breathing heavily under the Mask, probably in anticipation.

Sick fuck.

"HEY there, Jack Off!" He giggled.

I eyed him with disdain.

"Well, howdy. That's a name I didn't expect to see again."

"Jack right? Or Dia? Hehe... Or Lillith."



How'd you know about that?"

"What? No what?" He shrugged, ignoring me.

"Nice kill."

Stepping past me, he squatted to dip his finger in some of the blood dripping on the street.

"Hehehe. You've been a naughty girl, I see."

I squinted at him, mildly annoyed. "You know, technically that was Lilith's doing."

He giggled at me. "Naughty. Naughty. Naughty."

"All bodies in a line to me."

"Doesn't mean we're the same person, now does it?" I glanced at him as I said so.

"You would be surprised."

"How'd this happen? You fucked yourself, or something?" He gestures to the chaos but is clearly implying more as to when he says "this".

I sighed and began to rub my temples, a migraine already forming.

"Ya know, I've had to explain this so many times, I'm tempted just to record it and press play when people ask."

"But since you asked.. When major shit in my life started happening, my timelines started fracturing. I started to fall through the cracks.

In a free fall at first. It was awful.

Then.. It slowed down to just Traveling when I slept."

"So basically, I've met 20 others of me. Most of them have died."

"Awww, but it's not fun just playing a recording." He chuckles. "So impersonal."

Standing to his feet, he wiped the blood from his finger off on the shirt of a corpse and moved up to me, inches from my face.

"I could help with that. I mean, getting rid of the rest of them."

"That's my speciality."

"Call it a favor for old times sake."

"Old times sake? Sweetheart, I hate to disappoint you, but you aren't my Advy. Your voice and your mask are all wrong."

I laughed and swiped a finger across his bloody one, deliberately looking him in the eyes as I do so. I grinned for a moment, shrugged, and put the finger in my mouth.

"Shit like this doesn't intimidate me anymore, hon."

"And no. You may not kill my other selves. They are useful."

"Useful pin cushions." He laughed. "Aw but Jackie, don't say things like that. I'm 'everyone's advocate'."

He grabbed my hands and pulled me into a slow waltz, "You did promise me a dance, remember?"

I smiled bemusedly and began to dance with him, deliberately keeping the dance slow and intricate, re-enacting some far off and distant memory.

I twirled the Advocate, taking the lead on our dance, and told him as he stops spinning,

"If you're everyone's Advocate, you'd know I hate that name."

"You know, I think Lilith is the better dancer." He snickered, dipping me, "Did you like my song, heh. How's your singing voice?"

"Not as nice as your screaming voice, right? I always preferred your screams." He laughed, pulling me up out of the dip, "Like a goat,"

"Screams like a fucking goat."

I pulled away, stomping my foot pettily as I did so.


With that, I covered my mouth and winced. I had gotten upset, and I had a terrible habit of saying stupid shit that could get me in trouble at the time.

Like now.

The Advocate was not a stupid man. He likely knew exactly what he was doing when he told me that, to gauge my reaction.

I stilled, a thought occurring to me.

'Oh god.'

'He just pulled a me on me! And I don't like that shit!'

The Advocate dipped at the waist, offering a mocking bow, "Hehehe, welcome to the fold, darling. Now, I think I was promised carnage." Sliding an arm along his wrist, a small syringe appeared from his sleeve and fell into his hand, filled by an eerie green liquid.

Circling me slowly, he playfully flicked the end of the needle, fluid dripping from the tip and him saying in a sing song voice, "You weren't teasing me were you, pumpkin, right? I do hate teasing."

Behind me now, he wrapped an arm around my waist and pulled me against him with surprising gentleness. "Carnage is my very favorite foreplay."

The needle still held like a cigarette between his fingers in his free hand.

I did my best to relax back against him, and put on a small, rueful smile.

"Yes, my dear. You can participate in the Culling, but you have to follow my Code. Or I will kill you myself."

"You've always threatened me with needles, love. Sometimes for a good time, sometimes for a bad time. What is it this time? The acid? The antibiotics that make my blood feel like it's burning? The sedative that keeps me still while you play? Or, gosh, I might even warrant that special cocktail of yours. You know the one."

He chuckled, whispering in my ear, "This one makes your orifices as loose as rubber."

"I would like to try and see you kill me, you can't even kill yourself." He ran his hand against my stomach, a single finger climbing up my side, "I don't know if you could stomach losing me. Another dead lover... how's Gallows by the way?"

"You need me as much as you need all of the less tasteful... what do you call them, Rabbits? Hehehe. Hop hop. You've lost a lot of people, little Jack, I think you put on a big smile and pretend it doesn't bother you."

"Advy, baby, it does seem as though you're going easy on me."

"People are sentimental, and emotional, to the point of irrationality. Myself included."

I calmly watched the hand trailing over my skin, mildly began to become aware of a physical reaction to his touch, batted his hand away as a result and stepped away to face him again.

"If my emotions were on right now, I'd probably tell you I was terrified. I know what so many Advocates are capable of. And of those, your aura screams for me the loudest."

"So twisted, so confused, so angry and bitter. It's like looking in a mirror, sweetheart. I know what I'm looking at. So no, dollface, you don't bother me. I've died to you before. I won't scream or cry or beg for you like I have in the past."

"I'm too tired and rundown to react the way you want me to, all the way around. I lack a basic reason to care right now. About anything."

"So if you want to play and get to kill people in a sanctioned way, then come inside with me. I'll pour you a drink, since I know better than to take one from you. We can talk if you like."

My voice strengthened marginally, growing in volume.

"But what I will NOT do is stand here in this street and pretend to cower for you. I'm not in the mood."

With that, I blew a kiss at him and flipped him the bird with both hands, nails with chipped black polish shining in the light, and walked into my home in No Man's Land, leaving the door ajar.

A giggle slipped from the Advocate's lips, like a breath, barely audible, as I slipped away from him. Sliding a lid over the needle he had brandished, he dropped it in his coat pocket before wiping his shoes off on the welcome mat and stepping inside.

"Don't mind if I do."

Once inside, he scrutinized the interior briefly before he set his coat aside and unbuttoned his sleeves. With a smooth gesture, he rolled them up to his elbows, revealing countless tattoos of varying shapes and size, like a sort of twisted collage of colors that made him appear... surprisingly, more human.

Where I went, he followed, finding a place to comfortably lean on his elbows.

"Screaming and begging aside, that doesn't leave moaning off the books. Heh, you look like you haven't had a good shag since I last saw you. I'll have to loan  out that green juice of mine to the next fuck you decide to drop your pants for."

He looked around the apartment. "This place is more of a shit hole then I would have guessed from my view from bushes."

I myself rolled my eyes at Advy's comments, walking to my personal bedroom at the back right corner of the house to retrieve an item. All the while refusing to react to him.

When his sleeves rolled up, I had had a flashback to a private moment in Juneau and needed the precious time it took to walk to the back to knock myself out of it.

Watching me as I switched rooms, the Advocate yawned. "HEY, where in hell is my Shady. With all these damn doppelgangers wandering around I'm having a hard time finding anyone I wouldn't kill for entertainment."

"Fuck if I know. I haven't seen her in person in four years."

The Advocate sighed, "Could you be more useless. What are you getting, old Jack-O?"

I wandered my room for a few moments, in search of something, before finally finding what I was looking for: a black garbage bag, overflowing with papers and picture albums. I dug through it, carelessly tossing items to the side, before brandishing the item I was looking for:

A black photo album with names scribbled across it, most notably a few of mine.

Doodles of proxy masks adorned the front under each name, no one mask the same as another.

If you squinted, you could see a pattern in the masks.. and notice the resemblance between the doodles and the mask the Advocate was currently wearing.

I glared in the direction of the door as I heard him call out from the other room. The man had the patience of a three year old.

"Coming, Advy! One sec."

With a final glance at the giant trash bag, I returned to the living room.

I tossed the album onto the coffee table near to where Advy was, sat down, and put my feet up on the coffee table next to the album. "See for yourself."

Picking the album up by the corner, Advocate turned over it's pages, looking at it from odd angles, scrutinizing it. He dropped it back on the coffee table, lowering himself to a squat and taking a serious posture. Putting his hand on my knee he said, "Don't quit your day job, dearly departed. Art might not be in your bag of tricks." he shrugged, clearly being mocking.

I rolled my eyes again, taking a swig from a bottle of J.D. I kept on hand.

"You're supposed to look through it, asshole. Tell me what you see."

"Poorly drawn doodles," he giggles, "and???"

Knocking the album off of the coffee table, the Advocate pulled a chair up and put a green bottle on the table, having drawn it from within his jacket. "You mind getting me that red bottle I put in your freezer last night? Terrible to drink one without the other."

My face paled.

"I thought you were out in the bushes. What bottle? When 'the fuck were you in here?"

He shrugs, "I mean did you expect me to show up without checking your duds out first? Pshhh it's like you don't know me. Has it been so long? I'm smart enough to figure out where you keep your weapons at and move them before I just waltz in here."

"Plus I wanted to leave you a house warming gift. Hehehe."

"And the bottle is not the gift."

I looked woefully first at the bottle of alcohol in my hands, then around the room at the various hiding places I kept my knives and handguns.

"I suppose it's too much to expect you to not have fucked with my food and liquor. Gonna have to throw everything out and get a runner to replace what we have."

"No no no, that would be so wasteful. Think of the children starving! Hahaha. Come now Sabine, none of it's lethal."

"Just a good time."

I froze, my hands beginning to shake badly enough to cause the ice in my glass to clatter audibly.

"...that's not my name."

Under my breath I add,

"Not anymore."

"Hm? Jack?" He said, ignoring my trembling hands, "You just told me you were Jack. What do you mean it's not your name?" He giggled.

"You just called me Sabine, you fucking asshole. I may be partially deaf, but even i heard that."

"Hmm, can't say I remember that." He shrugs, "I think you might be going batty, darling. Too much time alone in your head. A drink?" He offers the green bottle towards me like a peace offering.

"Do you seriously expect me to drink anything you hand me?"

"Yes," he laughs, "or else I wouldn't offer it. Takes the edge off.. hehehehe."

I shook my head. "That kind of thing might've worked when I had purple hair, but in my world that was an incredibly long time ago. It feels like it's been centuries ago, honestly."

Advy gave me a long, searching look before replying.

"You'd appreciate me more if you accepted the gifts I offered you."

I glared at him over the top of my glasses and snatched the bottle out of his hands. I unscrewed the top, sniffed it before shrugging, and took a couple of long swigs. "Fuck it. What's the worst thing it can do? It's not like you can kill me any more."

"I mean, I can kill anyone I please, but the question is why would I kill you when I could watch you exist and suffer twice as much," he laughed, watching me as I drank from the bottle, before getting up to retrieve the other bottle from the freezer. Chilled overnight, he took a moment to pour some of it into a glass. He placed it in front of me and smiled. "Now the other one, to prevent headaches."

I blinked at him in disbelief. "Ya know, at this rate I wouldn't be surprised if the bottle said 'drink me' on its label. But whatever. I'll play along."

I dutifully picked up the glass, drinking until it was completely drained.

"Are you going to tell me now why i'm drinking Christmas themed drinks?"

"Nope," he responded, getting up and starting for the door. Grabbing his coat, he shrugged it on and dipped at the waist, offering me a kind bow, "Have a good night, deary. I have killing to do. Hehe."

And disappeared out the door.

I started feeling strangely discombobulated, as if all my muscles unscrewed themselves from their joints. I lost most control over my body, barely able to fall off the couch to try to make a loud sound and draw attention. The world started spinning, and things slowly faded into bright neon colors, like I was in a Nightmare Before Christmas themed funhouse.

Skeletons hung from the wall, and blood flooded the floor.

Small little pulses of miasma began to creep from the floor and overtake everything, creating veins of darkness and pockets of filth and disease that began to weep pus.

Small vermin and crawling creatures started swarming from beneath the floor, pushing against the floorboards and popping them upwards, creating crawlspaces for the vermin to escape and rush outwards in a flood. Consciously, I knew it wasn't real. Emotionally.. it was all I could do to think at all.

The creatures turned as one and began to giggle as a mass unit, swarming towards my feet, and murmurs similar to the voice of the Advocate began to flood my hearing until the sound became my entire world.

I crawled for the hallway, barely able to lift my arms and drag myself forward. A normally small distance, fifteen feet to the door where Gallows lay suddenly felt like a mile. My arms began to cramp, and I temporarily lost control and fell back to the floor, crying.

It was all I could do to roll over and begin to scream.


I heard movement from the other side of the house, but it suddenly seemed less important to me to move towards my friends. Everything flooded into a cascade of rainbows and miasma, like the darkest rainbow came to life and infected my home. I felt nauseated, and sad, and lost.

Strange figures I have never met before danced before me and began to sing the strangest shit.

I swear I heard some Dr. Horrible songs. At the time it made sense, but looking back..

What the fuck, man?

The Advocate tried to tell me that the poisoning would only last for a day, at max three.

.....it lasted over a week.

Nonstop pain and memories and fucking to stay sane became my reward for trusting him.

I don't know how to explain all the myraid shit I went through. Not yet.

Not really.

So much has happened since the Culling that, honestly, trying to remember what happened when and in what order is a bit more than I can do. I'll try my best to recount what I can, but..

Well. Y'all will understand later.