they'll always find a Way in
rating: +40+x

The group of Serpent's Hand members panted as they collapsed into the Wanderer's Library, their Way closing behind them.

For a moment, they were afraid. Afraid of the locusts that had been swarming behind them just moments ago. But the Way was closed, and everyone was okay. They'd survived.

But others weren't so lucky.

As the empathetic employees of Wondertainment scrounged lands yet to be ravaged by the swarm, opening Ways to Wonder World!™ for anyone they could find, two women spoke on the top floor of Wonder Tower.

"How many have been bought in so far?" Dr. Holly L. Wondertainment asked, rubbing her forehead.

Her assistant, Judy Papill, responded with a number higher than she wanted to hear.

"Well… If… if this is unavoidable we might as well give them the refuge they need in their final moments."

"But we—"

Looking up from her clipboard, Judy saw tears falling from Holly's eyes. "I don't know what else to do, Judy." She sniffled. "I just… I didn't think it'd happen like this. So… so quickly. But it's okay…"


"Yes…" Holly replied, her legs wobbling as she stood up from her chair. "At least…"

Judy lurched forward, hugging the final Dr. Wondertainment as tears began to waterfall down her face. "At least we're here together."

Far down below, at the bottom of the tower, a frazzled man came sprawling out of a Way, and the Wonder World!™ denizens helped him to his feet. "Thank you! Thank you for saving me!"

The pure gratitude completely drowned out the sound of wings buzzing as locusts crawled out from under his clothes, ready to feed on a whole new land.

"All clothes must be taken off! Nothing can be taken inside! Everyone is subject to an inspection! None of those pests are getting into Three Portlands, y'hear?!" The UIU Director shouted into a megaphone, looking over the lines of uncomfortable citizens.

Agent Tosh Reddy scoffed as he finished inspecting a naked, sobbing young woman. "Go on to the Way, the agents up there will help you get to safety." Nodding, she swallowed the vomit that was daring to spurt from her mouth and ran forward. Tosh sighed. "Nex—"

A gunshot rang out from the checkpoint nearby, and Tosh craned his neck to see a man fall to the floor, blood gushing from his stomach. The agent who had shot him kneeled down with a bottle of pesticide— the only one that even had some effect on the locusts— and sprayed it into a small, barely-noticeable cut on his back. Three locusts flew from the corpse, and Tosh swore he could hear a high-pitched cry before they shriveled up and died.

He shook his head, looking back to his checkpoint. No point in worrying too much…

"Next!" Tosh shouted, and another man stepped forward. He was shivering, a static worry plastered onto his face. As Tosh looked him over, he opened his mouth only to let out a cough, which descended into dry-heaving before stopping instantaneously. "Are you okay?"

He didn't respond.

"Well…" Just shaken, most likely. And understandably so. But he was all clear, no cuts or anything. "You're free to go on. The other agents will help you get to safety."

The man silently walked forward, every step weightless as something within him began to wriggle. After waiting in yet another line, he stepped through the Way, finally looking up to the busy city of Three Portlands, where citizens were handing out clothes and food to all the newcomers.

Someone tapped on his shoulder, offering him a robe.

They barely had any time to react when locusts burst from the man's chest, hungry for more.

Back in the Wanderer's Library, the group of Serpent's Hand members watched a set of bookshelves crumbled into nothingness.

Another world had ended, and dust was all it left behind.

As they moved on, bidding farewell to their lost knowledge, a single locust crawled from the remains of the shelf with only one desire: to feed.


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