Chapter One - The End
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Riders

A woman stood in the center of the dim amphitheater, far beneath the surface levels of the Temple. Her dark hair was in a tight ponytail, her eyes glowing green, the color of confidence shining through the metal-and-glass applications. She was laden with a suit of plate armor, the steel matching the hue of the pipes and gears of her arms. A scythe rested upon her back, its intimidating form somehow only enhanced by its gilded handle.

However, the thousands of eyes in the seats around her were focused on something else that moment, the same thing she looked upon.

The guards wheeled a massive steel cube down the aisle of the amphitheater. Twelve locks rested upon the side facing the woman. Her expression remained unchanged, but the scythe on her back quivered ever so slightly.

The Grand Artificer stood on the pulpit behind her. The steam rising from his back smelled of incense, which permeated the entire theater.

"At long last, the day of our Savior is nigh."


A figure ran up the stairs of the Temple. Before the guards could even react, the intruder crashed through the stained glass doors and sprinted down the hallways, looking for the theater as though the world depended on it.

Because, of course, it did.

The figure ran down the stairs. Looking at the signs on the wall, she picked up her pace.

Eight more floors.


Miles away from the city were mountains, and at the peak of one stood a man. He faced the city naked-eyed. Despite the events he knew would soon transpire, his face was calm, bored even, as though the experience was a familiar one.

Another, younger man rode up to him. The horse he was on, like most of the world's animals, was composed of more mechanical parts than organic. He dismounted and walked towards the elder one, gears and pulleys in his legs clanking and whirring.

"How will you know if we did it?" he asked.

The elder remained silent for a moment. He looked at the patch on his chest: three arrows, guided by a fourth into a mighty star.

He looked towards the city. "We'll know."


Click.

The first lock opened in her presence.

"For three years, our young soldier has toiled."

Click.

"She braved the farthest reaches of evil."

Click.

"And did what no other before her could."

Click.

"She found the keys! The Messiah's keys!"

Click.

"THE KEYS! THE MESSIAH'S KEYS!" shouted the crowd.


The figure opened a set of doors and came face-to-face with a pair of guards.

"HALT!" shouted the one on the left. His voice was concussive, rattling the intruder's skull. In response, a knife - a beautiful tool, engraved with flowers - became implanted in the shouting guard's chest. At the same time, the figure pulled out a flintlock pistol and shot the other guard.

The intruder moved past, leaving the knife in the guard. He could be one of the few in this world to have seen flowers.


Click.

"And she will be remembered in the eternities!"

Click.

"As the greatest of heroes!"

Click.

"And in her presence! The final key reveals itself!"

Click.

"The Bible of Life!"

Click.


A woman rode up next to the two men. She dismounted her steed, nodded at the elder, and laced her fingers with the younger.

"She must succeed. For our sake." she said.

The elder scowled. "For your sake."

The woman glared at him. "Foreman-"

"For your sake. Not mine."


"And our God is summoned! To save us all!"

Click.

"I hereby name him!"

Click. BANG.

At the same time as the final lock opened, a door into the grand room burst open, and the figure sprinted in.

"JEHOVAH PRIME!"

"No," said the intruder, having failed the most important mission of this world.

The cube opened, revealing nothing less, nothing more, than an empty chamber.

The crowd murmured and exclaimed, until the Grand Artificer shouted "Behold!" and pointed towards the woman, who held an ancient book in her hands. She smiled briefly, feeling as though her mission was completed, until she began to scream, and was consumed by an intense light.

The crowd began to scream, turning away from the harsh glow. Winds began to whip around the theater.

I DO NOT CLAIM YOUR FALSE GOD.

The members of the crowd began to run for the doors.

YOU HAVE BEEN JUDGED.

The winds swirled faster and faster.

YOU CANNOT BE SAVED.

And the Church, its god absent, was wiped away.


The end of the world had begun. Already, human life had ceased within the city, and the waves of destruction were quickly spreading.

On top of the mountain, Foreman turned to face his two comrades. The wind roared through their ears. Even though he was right next to them, even his yelling voice could barely be heard.

"This is it!" He pulled a device from a pouch on his belt and began to adjust it. "I'm moving on now!"

"Take us with-!" The younger man was interrupted by a blast of wind. He and the woman fell violently to the ground. Foreman was able to hold firm; he'd learned how to deal with the oncoming chaos.

The younger man tried to rise, but to no avail. He turned towards the woman, but she remained still. He looked back towards Foreman. "Please! Take me with you!"

Foreman tossed the device into the rocks. The ground around it began to shimmer. Foreman faced the younger man.

"You were a valiant soldier, I'll tell you that! But you knew this was coming! It wouldn't be right if you didn't stay with the rest of your world!"

He turned away and shouted, "Time to move on to the next one!"

And with that, he jumped into the shining ground.


"So what do we know?"

Dr. Erren sat at her desk, facing Aaron Ymir, captain of Mobile Task Force Lambda-5, or the "White Rabbits". He'd just given his report on a dimensional anomaly - a report which was almost totally empty.

Ymir shrugged. "Like I said, judging from the Hume spike and the signature, the guy who came through there was from another dimension. Ended up in a McDonald's parking lot in Prescott. Beyond that," he shook his head, "Whoever he is, he's good, especially considering he's from another reality."

"What do you mean by that?" asked Erren.

"From my experience, most entities that come from other universes have trouble keeping their head low; they don't know our culture, our laws, even what we look like sometimes. This guy has been able to completely blend in with the general populous, and two days of searching brought us absolutely nothing. Either they've had experience here before, they've planned this out beforehand, or they're simply extremely clever when it comes to stuff like this."

Dr. Erren nodded her head and looked at the report again. "But they're staying low, correct?"

"Yeah."

"Then that's good. At least he's not doing anything Veil-lifting. We have time. But even so," she turned back to the captain, "I want a squad in Prescott for a few days. Look out for anything weird. Hopefully we got lucky and this was just some guy passing into the wrong dimension by accident, but I doubt it."

"Should we prepare for the worst?" asked Ymir.

Dr. Erren rolled her eyes. "This is the Foundation, Aaron. And as cheesy as it sounds, we're always prepared for the worst."


Foreman sat in a bar. He liked it here, it was quiet. The town was basically the retirement home for every old white guy on this world, so the loudest it got was two folks fighting about their president.

The bartender handed him a coffee. Foreman didn't drink; alcohol from any world had never sat well with him, especially with all of the unusual travel he did. He took a sip.

"Never seen you 'round here," said the bartender, "You from anywhere?"

Foreman set down his drink. "North." It was technically true. His home reality, he'd been raised as far north as you could get.

The bartender nodded. "You visiting family or anything?"

"Nah. Just passing through," as would most likely be the case, considering how all the previous universes had been.

He set a wad of money on the counter - he'd pickpocketed it off of a fat guy sleeping a few seats over - and began to walk out.

"Sir, did you want your change?" asked the bartender.

He stopped at the door and turned around. "I won't be needing it."

As crazy as they could be, every version of the human home he'd been to was easy to learn about. How exchanges worked, human nature, all that. No matter how diverse their cultures were, each reality always became utterly predictable after a short time.

Foreman didn't intend to waste his time, he was a busy guy. Finding the Thirds, evading whatever Enemy was here. Oh, and recruiting some new Riders. The works.

With his arrival began the end of the world…


…and in a child's home, there was no contention. All were sinless, against their will.

And thus began the end of souls.


…and in a rubbish dump, there was destruction. The least intimidating figure within would slowly emerge.

And thus began the end of life.


…and in the Foundation, the Enemy, a toy was discovered. Its intelligence was great, but even it did not know its greater purpose.

And thus began the end of thought.

The End | Chapter 2 - ??? »

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