ESPER JUNCTION
[Undertale] How Cats Got Banned From Snowdin

[Warning: adult language, mature content]


Papyrus set his jaw in consternation. "THE GREAT PAPYRUS IS NOT SURE IF HE APPROVES."

Next to him, Sans grinned, brimming with mischief. The succubus stared at the contraption behind him, recognizing its tall wooden frame and cross-beams from that thing she watched Papyrus build south of town. Off to the side sat a cardboard box large enough to crawl inside. Its crude, heavy lettering matched the note she got after first waking up on Papyrus's couch, so doubtlessly Sans wrote it. Holding the flaps of the box closed was a thick volume, and judging by the muted color and stark font on its cover, it wasn't another joke book.

"I have so many questions I don't even know where to begin," she said.

"AS DO I," Papyrus said, although he had much less trouble getting started. "WHAT ARE WE DOING? WHY DID YOU MOVE THE CAT-APULT UP HERE?"

"And how...?" she interjected. The apparatus looked to be ten times his weight.

"IS THIS WHAT YOU SKIPPED WORK TO DO? DID YOU STEAL THAT QUANTUM PHYSICS BOOK FROM THE LIBRARY? ALSO, WHAT IS A 'SCHRODINGER' AND HOW DID YOU GET A BOX FULL OF IT?"

"i know a guy," Sans said shiftily, and volunteered nothing else.

"I DON'T LIKE THIS, THOUGH. I THOUGHT WE AGREED NOT TO USE THE CAT-APULT ANYMORE. THE LAST TIME WE TRIED TO FIRE IT, THE RESULTS WERE... UNSETTLING."

She lent Papyrus a bewildered look, not liking whatever the hell that meant.

"that's because you pointed it straight at the mouse hole. i told ya, you just gotta give it room to breathe. besides," he said, patting one of the supports. "i recalibrated the whole rig myself."

"YOU DID? WOWIE, THAT'S SO HELPF-" The look of pride on Papyrus's face collapsed in a heartbeat. "-WAIT. YOU WORKED ON THIS?"

"uh-huh."

"REAL WORK? YOU?"

Sans bothered to look indignant, for once. "don't sound so shocked, bro."

"I CAN'T HELP IT. YOU ONLY WORK WHEN... WELL, YOU JUST DON'T. I'M TRYING TO IMAGINE WHAT'S MOTIVATED YOU TO DO SUCH A THING, AND I DON'T LIKE WHAT'S COMING TO MIND."

"heh, you got me... i wouldn't lift a finger if i didn't have a good reason." He then shifted on his feet, turning towards the yard far below. "i'll lay it to you straight, pap. succubutt and i have a little bone to pick with our good pal malk, and we're gonna do it right meow."

Papyrus balled his fists and stamped the ground. "DARN IT, THAT'S NOT STRAIGHT AT ALL! THAT'S ANOTHER AWFUL JOKE."

"all work and no puns makes a dull boy. anyway, i only need a little help. succubutt, how're those wings ya got?"

She'd been flexing them every morning, delicately testing their tensile strength without stressing the bone. One good thing about being half-dragon was the healing factor, so she figured the fracture was smoothed over by now. "...Better," she decided. "I haven't tried them since you broke one, though. Thanks again, asshat."

Sans hummed dismissively and scratched his chin, focused on a point far away. "think you can get up those trees over there, with or without flying?"

She stared into the cloud of pine branches directly ahead, their trunks driving pin-straight into the murky soil around the lake, some thirty feet below. "I can climb... but, uh, why?"

"need a clear shot'a the dock. just gotta take out some of those low branches without getting caught, ya feel me? should be a cinch. the yard-hands are out for the morning, so only malk's around." Sans gave her an encouraging nudge, and she frowned back.

"Well, shit. I can give it a shot. You got some hedge clippers or something?"

He narrowed a look at her clawed feet.

"Fucking really?" She rolled her shoulders and huffed. "Ugh, fine."

Sans chuckled and stooped behind the box to grab something. He passed her a rusted hand saw. "as fun as that would be to watch, it'll be quieter if you use this."

She snatched the tool with a grunt. "Yeah, you think so, smartass? I'll be right back."

As she shucked off her cloak and braced against the edge of the cliff, Papyrus helpfully shouted, "BE CAREFUL, FORTUNE TELLER! IT'S A STEEP DROP."

"yo papyrus, indoor voice, okay?"
"BUT WE'RE OUTSIDE!"
"yeah, but... y'know, pretend."
"OH. I CAN DO THAT! PRETENDING IS ONE OF MY STRONG SUITS. IT'S NOT NEAR AS STRONG AS CAPTAIN UNDYNE'S, THOUGH. I NEED TO INVEST IN STEEL PLATING..."

Not sticking around for the asinine conclusion to that discussion, she propelled herself towards the nearest ring of trees, wings catching the still, cold air for a silent glide. She hit one tree with a clatter, claws sheering off chips of bark that tumbled to the ground, but otherwise made a solid landing on one of its thick limbs. After sizing up the surrounding branches, she brandished the saw and got to work, trying to shave down the greenery in as clandestine a way as a six-foot-tall, six-limbed dragon lady could possibly manage.

A pine needle stuck in her ear, drawing a prickling curse. Still, the skeletons' discourse carried to her from the rocks.

"HOW MUCH IS ARMOR POLISH, ANYWAY?"
"any day now, with that pretending."
"OH, RIGHT. WAIT... THIS PRETENDING SOUNDS A LOT LIKE SNEAKING. WHY ARE WE BEING SNEAKY?"
"all part of the plan."
"WHY WASN'T I BRIEFED ON THIS PLAN? I COULD HAVE WORN MY SNEAKERS INSTEAD OF BOOTS. YOU GET IT? BECAUSE SNEAKING."
"hilarious, bro."

She had a moment where she wondered what to do with all these trimmings. Letting them hit the ground would give her position away, wouldn't it? She cast an eye downward, descrying any movement below. The yard appeared completely deserted. Then why the shit am I trying to be stealthy?

"shhhh, here he comes," Sans answered that question. Her head darted towards the sound of a door creaking, and then she spied the target: Malk the red mallard, sauntering out of his office and onto the pier.

"right on time," the older skeleton noted.

"HE IS? HOW DID YOU KNOW THAT?"

"malk's a smoker. he never does it indoors, but i see him go outside grillby's sometimes, and i've watched him out here for a bit. that's his favorite spot for a break."

She watched, and sure enough, Malk waddled into a comfortable position at the edge of the dock, struck a match and lit a cigarette. She looked back to Sans for guidance, and the skeleton gestured for her to return. The bundle of pine trimmings tickled, but she held it close as her legs and wings kicked her back to the cliff. She dumped the pile of needles behind the cardboard box and brushed off her clothes, growling, "This better be worth it."

"oh, ye have little faith," Sans said drolly, and put his weight on a crank that winched the catapult's arm into place. He then went to the box, removed the book atop it, gingerly reached under the flap and withdrew... a cat.

It wasn't a cat-monster, many of which she'd seen around the hotel, nor a wildcat, but a run-of-the-mill orange housecat. It mewed and squirmed as Sans held it by the scruff.

"What the shit," she said, appalled on a level she didn't know was possible for her, personally. "You guys weren't kidding about this thing firing live cats, were you?"

"nope," Sans affirmed. "but i mean, it's relatively safe."

"HOW IS SMASHING INTO A CLIFF AND SHATTERING EVERY BONE IN ITS SOFT, PUNY BODY SAFE?"

"relative to that first test, i meant," Sans amended. "papyrus, you do remember that wasn't a real cat, right? it was a squash you drew ears and whiskers on."

"IT WAS ABSOLUTELY A SQUASH AFTER WHAT THE CAT-APULT DID TO IT. OH, POOR MISTER WIGGLESWORTH." Papyrus sighed forlornly, and then snapped back to the present. "REALLY THOUGH, WE SHOULDN'T DO THIS. WHERE DID YOU EVEN FIND THAT FELINE? WHAT IF IT BELONGS TO SOME SAD PERSON?"

"nah, it was donated by science."

She hated to argue on the side of semantics, but, "Don't you mean 'to' science?"

"noooope," Sans said once more, and placed the cat in the bucket of the catapult. "hey succubutt, hold it down for me. let go on my mark."

She didn't know why she complied to this, and the cat didn't appreciate her grip any more that it did Sans's, but she was holding out for this activity to become interesting in her benefit. "All right, we're set."

"OH, DEAR." Papyrus's voice took on a whimpering pitch. "I DON'T THINK I CAN WATCH."

"relax. cats always land on their feet, right?"

"THAT'S NOT A PROVEN FACT!"

"it will be after this," Sans said, and gave the mark. The air rang with a crisp, plaintive shriek and the catapult's fuzzy payload launched off the cliff. The succubus watched with a touch of awe as the cat sailed through the clearing she had cut and towards the lake, its limbs splayed in rigid panic like a flying squirrel.

The cat hit the dirt in front of the dock paws-first, the force of the landing driving its legs into the muck like nails. It sat stock-still like that for a moment, looking like a loaf of bread (with tiny ears and a tail) from a distance. She watched Malk turn towards the disturbance and startle loudly, the curse he emitted more like a squawk than anything she could read. The cat was shaken from its stupor by the noise, and it clambered out of the mud and streaked away.

Behind her, Papyrus visibly deflated. "THANK GOODNESS. THAT DIDN'T END WITH THE KIND OF SPLAT I WAS THINKING IT WOULD."

Sans was snickering on his way back to the box, where he pulled forth another cat. "heheh quick, let's do another."

The next cat (grey with white boots) was twice as loud and half as graceful, hitting the water behind Malk just as the duck was puzzling over the first cat's landing spot. "Holy shit...!" was articulated via her em-reading across the yard, making her flinty mask split with a grin.

"Okay, this is getting good," she confessed.

Sans shuffled between the box and the catapult in a hurry, stuffing two more cats into the bucket. "don't slow down yet. we're gonna make it rain cats and dogs. only with cats."

More small, flailing bodies took to the air, the sound of their cries snuffed by acceleration alone. She saw one land squarely in front of the duck, making him scramble backwards down the pier. The other sailed over Malk's head and took a dive in the lake, the short splash it produced amusing in itself. Sans didn't even wait to watch. When she looked down, three more squirming fur-balls were in the bucket.

If Papyrus had actual eyes, they would have popped out of his head. He pointed at the box with dread. "HOW MANY CATS ARE IN THERE??"

"as many as we need," Sans declared, and the succubus helped him line up the next shot.

Away the three went--two touched down around the front of the pier, blocking Malk in, and one grey tabby went wide, going into a blurry tailspin after clipping a tree. It landed on the roof of a shed, slid down the corrugated tin and clung to a gutter, drumming up a racket.

"What in god's stinking hell is going on?!" was Malk's next outburst, and she didn't need to be a mind-reader of any kind to tell it was made in terror. He's afraid of the little bastards, she realized with a touch of schadenfreude.

Three squeaky meows were clipped in unison as they fired another triple-shot. Cats of sundry colors began to pepper the yard, and a handful fixed their attention on the duck that was scrambling in place on the narrow pier, afraid to cross the line of meowing, spitting sentries. Malk's far-away complaints were turning into a chant. "What the fuck, what the fuck, what the FUCK-"

"Haaaaaaah hah, this is a fucking riot," the succubus cackled.

Another triple-shot followed. And another. She could hardly hold in more than two, yet Sans winched the arm so quickly she didn't have a second to complain, much less for any cats to escape. He was more adroit at wrangling the ammunition from box to bucket than anybody had right to be, although he seemed to think otherwise, and his next words were forced through a bit of panting. "hey pap, if you work the crank here, it'll go faster."

Papyrus crossed his arms, his naked grimace twisted into a pout. "I REGRET EVEN BEING PARTY TO THIS RIDICULOUS PRANK."

"Hey, you've followed us this far," she argued. "Might as well not half-ass it. You only live once, you know?"

Sans finished loading another bucket of cats and said out loud, instead, "and some got eight extra lives. com'on bro, don't be a party-pooper. nobody's even hurt." Then his grin cracked ever-wider, and she could tell by the younger brother's sharp flinch that he knew what was coming. "these cats are purr-fectly fe-line."

"OH MY G-" Papyrus was interrupted by another THWAMP and REIIIOW from the cat-apult, and everyone stopped to watch three more cats join the fray. Their small, disgruntled murmurs were fast growing into a chorus, almost overpowering Malk's cursing.

"There's getting to be a lot of fuckin' cats down there, and they sound pissed," she observed.

"yeah, malk's getting littered with 'em."

"OH MY GOD YOU TWO," Papyrus worked in his objection, despite them both. "THIS IS HORRIBLE! WE SHOULDN'T BE LAUGHING AT THIS."

"well yeah, he'll probably hear us if we do."

"THAT'S NOT MY POINT, SANS!"

Sans didn't waste another minute, sending another three on their way. The timing was absurdly perfect; just as the duck turned in their direction, honing in on the source of the mayhem, a furry black cannonball struck him head-on. The cat instantly stapled itself to Malk's face, inertia driving both into the lake with a warbling, cacophonous swear and a splash big enough to stain the old wood of the dock.

That broke her--the succubus rolled backwards in a fit of laughter. Even Sans stopped to admire the damage, his shoulders shaking with deep, relishing chuckles. When she wiped the corners of her eyes and looked back at Papyrus, his expression was muddled, rictus twitching with suppressed mirth. "NYEH... HEH... OKAY, IT'S A LITTLE FUNNY."

Sans beamed at him, delighted by the approval so much she could see a blush of bright blue across their link when she blinked. Their mutual merriment was cut short by a brash shout from the yard.

"What the ever-living--SANS? Sans, you big puckered asshole! What's the meaning of this??"

Sans answered with another volley. "i dunno, buddy, you tell me! looks like you're getting the crap beat of out you!"

"Gak!" Malk thrashed his way out of the water in time to avoid a tortoiseshell. He then made a mad-dash across the yard, wrenching a machete from a stump and waving it wildly to clear a path. The cats were only incensed by this, and a trickle of them pursued him all the way up the trunk of a pine. She couldn't help notice that Malk climbed impressively fast for a monster with webs instead of claws.

"oh, my bad. i shouldn't use that word, right? i guess we'll say you're getting the cat beat out of you, then." Sans punctuated the bad joke with another airborne cat.

A hairy white brute leapt at Malk's tail feathers, and was narrowly rebuffed by the swing of his blade. "Sweet fucking mercy, Sans! What the blazing fuck on a bicycle...!"

The succubus suddenly realized two things: what this entire cat caper was all about, and that Sans could carry a grudge like a motherfucker.

"Great hoary summoned gods of thunder," she swore, as Sans loaded the bucket with four more and then gave the mark. "Bomb's away, mother-ducker!"

"heheh good one, succubutt."

Malk latched onto the sound of her voice. "Whore?! I shoulda known your slutty mitts were in this, too!"

It was especially satisfying to watch a cat land on a branch near Malk, forcing him to fend off an angry paw above as well as below. "Son of a--stop with the cats, please! I hate cats! What the hell's gotten into you people?!"

She nearly jumped at how well Papyrus's voice carried into the basin. "YOU SHOULD GIVE IN TO MY BROTHER'S DEMANDS, WHATEVER THEY ARE. I CAN TELL YOU FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCE THAT HE'S VERY UNREASONABLE WHEN HE SETS HIS MIND TO SOMETHING!" Papyrus frowned at the box, from which Sans procured another mewling pair. "...ALSO, WE HAVE INFINITE CATS."

"Et tu, Papyrus?!" Malk wailed. "What do you psychos even want??"

"Call off your mother-fucking swear jar!" she shouted. Since they were bargaining, she thought to add, "...And quit calling me whore!" Sans simply nodded, backing her up.

"NYEH HEH, YES! IT'S VERY RUDE! SHE IS MY GUEST, YOU KNOW! I CAN VOUCH FOR HER HONOR IF I MUST!"

Considering their conversation over eggs that morning, she was impressed by that sentiment. She wondered what Sans had to say about it, but the only language he was speaking at the moment was flying cats.

THWAMP. Another joined Malk on an adjacent branch, two were scratching their way up the trunk, and eight were prowling around its roots. Countless others were milling about the yard, making it look like the world's fluffiest mine field.

Malk sounded close to tears. "Okay, okay, please, just stop! You people are insane!"

"So you'll get rid of it??" she pressed.

"Yes, you big whiny bitches!"

"OH MY GOD," Papyrus turned his umbrage back to his brother, finally catching up to the plot. "ALL OF THIS SO YOU COULD USE PROFANITY AT YOUR AWFUL PUB?"

Sans shrugged. "pretty much, yeah."

"UNBELIEVABLE. YOU'RE COMPLETELY INCORRIGIBLE."
"nice, you found a way to use that word."
"I KNOW, EVER SINCE I READ IT IN THE CROSSWORD I'VE BEEN WAITING FOR THE BEST OPPORTUNITY. I KNEW YOU WOULDN'T FAIL ME, BROTHER."
"you still didn't beat that crossword, though."
"TCH, BECAUSE IT'S CHEATING! I WISH THEY'D PUT THAT OTHER PUZZLE BACK IN THE PAPER. IT WAS WAY MORE FAIR!"

Malk's outrage boiled to the surface, spilling over his horror, puffing out his feathers and cutting across the yard like acid. "Hey, you blathering cock-gobblers, cut the shit! You said you'd get rid of these cats!"

The succubus smirked. "Do we have to?"

"i guess so. it's almost too bad," Sans said. "i didn't even get to break out my best one-liners. it coulda been a real-"

"PLEASE NO," Papyrus groaned.

"-cat-astrophe. but now i got no pawpose hanging around, with no more cats to tell the tail."

"He already surrendered," she quipped. "No need for cruel and unusual pun-ishment."

Sans threw back a hard, whip-like laugh as Papyrus buried his face in his hands.

"OH NO, IT REALLY IS CONTAGIOUS," he bemoaned. "I'LL HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO HATE THE BOTH OF YOU, NOW."

"don't be hatin', bro."

"SHUSH, YOU'RE INTERRUPTING MY SWEET, SWEET HATE." Like flipping a light switch, he swung out of his languishing and gestured to their handiwork. "BUT YES, IT'S TIME TO CALL OFF THESE AWFUL SHENANIGANS. I RUE THE DAY I BUILT THAT CAT-APULT! WE SHOULD DESTROY IT, BEFORE ITS HIDEOUS POWER FALLS INTO THE WRONG HANDS."

She passed a look to Sans, who shrugged again, not invested in the fate of the contraption. "If you guys insist," she said. She stood up, planted a foot on its base and rallied her dragon's strength to kick it off the cliff. It crashed atop a stack of logs, splinters and bolts shooting across the clearing and spooking half a dozen loitering cats.

"WOWIE, YOU ARE STRONG," Papyrus remarked, his tone almost reverent. He frowned at what looked like a pile of spilled toothpicks far below. "...AND DESTRUCTIVE."

"Hey!!" Malk berated her from the safety of his tree. "Now you're junking up my yard, too? I should sue for damages, ya fuckin' jerk-offs...!"

"It's all wood, pussy burglar!" she shouted back. "Isn't this a lumber yard? Just sell the shit."

"I swear to GOD, when I get down from here...!"

She ignored the rest of his threat and turned back to Papyrus. "Should we even bother chasing the cats off? I say let the bastard fend for himself."

"THERE'S HONOR IN MERCY, FORTUNE TELLER!" he declared. "ALSO YES, THIS IS YOUR MESS. YOU SHOULD CLEAN IT UP. I, ON THE OTHER HAND, SHOULD BE GETTING TO WORK. I'M LATE FOR MY PATROL! PLEASE, MAKE SURE MY BROTHER GETS RID OF ALL THESE STRAY ANIMALS."

And just like that, Papyrus strutted away, humming a ditty. "He puts an awful lot of faith in us," she remarked to his back.

"it's his way," Sans said, and she detected a pinch of admiration. I'll never get how those two dumbasses look up to each other so hard.

"So, what's the plan for these hairballs? And how the hell did you summon so many? What kind of sorcery did you cook up with that box? I'm legitimately curious."

"a true magician never reveals his secrets."

"You're a mysterious little shit, that's for sure." Her good humor dissolved into concern as she looked out over the small army of felines. "Uh, but seriously. We going to put these things back where they came from, or...?"

Sans tugged his collar, grin stretching into a nervous expression. "um, heh, no? the box doesn't, uh... work like that. actually, i didn't think past this part of the plan."

"God damnit."

It took an hour and a half and a raid of Malk's tool shed, but they improvised. She had to do most of the catching, since the cats were nimble and so was she, with the bonus of flight. There was a perverse kind of fun to swooping across the yard and plucking her galloping prey from the ground like a hawk, even if it was only to stuff another cat in a burlap sack and pass it off to Sans. By the time they finished, they had a miserable mound of crying housecats in one huge, writhing fishing net, and still no clue what to do with them all.

Sans said he had an idea, though, and told her he would handle it himself. The only catch was that she couldn't watch him do it, so she left the yard after making him promise not to do anything incredibly inhumane. Sans assured her that he would "find a good home" for the critters.

She left to find Trent, who was good to his word and sitting at Sans's sentry booth, looking fittingly bored. She gave him a piece of gold, told him to get lost and worked the rest of the shift herself, just to pass the time until supper at Grillby's.

The moment she walked through the door, she was struck with a wall of smoke, the smell of muddy slush, rust and wet fur, and the largest showing she'd seen at the pub since that human prisoner made news. It was a trial just to shove her way to the bar. Rez was the first to recognize her, and the wolf cleared one of the stools (swatting away a small white dog) to give her a spot.

"'ey, Succubus, you picked a hell of a night to join us." His smooth voice was nearly lost in the crowd. If not for her em-reading, she wouldn't have made out a word of it.

"The hell's all this racket about?" she asked.

Rudy bumped her other shoulder. "It's dog night! All dogs get the first drink free, on the house. Then it's half-price for every drink after."

"You're fucking kidding," she said.

"Yeah, every dog in Snowdin is here, just about. Some even call their family and friends from out of town every time Grillby does this, just to get in on the deal," Rez said, explaining the ballooned population of mutts.

The succubus looked for Grillby, who stayed busy waiting on the throng of canines. She scowled, realizing it was going to be a while before her turn to eat, and then spun a look at the nearest table, where a pack of dogs were playing a game that involved throwing a little white ball into mugs of ale and then drinking the spoils. A beagle and a brown pup scrambled after every missed shot to fetch the ball (with their mouths, which she wasn't sure was necessary, much less sanitary), knocking into another table where a clan wearing brown and white spots snarled across their poker cards. Doggo was laughing over a pile of chips, a fat mug in one hand and a smoldering dog biscuit dangling from the corner of his mouth. Her gaze crossed the swear jar on the corner of the bar, and she noticed that Malk was nowhere to be found. Her scowl took a smug turn into a smirk.

Something tugged her tail, and she was about to sweep her foot into someone's mangy face when she stopped short, realizing it was Sans. "Hey, jacka-" She then did a double-take. "The fuck are you wearing on your face?"

Sans grinned past her, to the barkeep that had appeared on the other side of the counter. Grillby studied the fake rubber snout and felt strips taped to Sans's skull and said, '...Nice try.'

Rez snorted. "Heh heh, sorry buddy, I tried it, too. Not even wolves count, apparently."

"oh well, can't blame a guy for tryin'." Sans shrugged, made no move to take off the ridiculous dog ears and nose, and then slapped the bar. "well hey, how 'bout your finest burg, and fries." He spared the succubus a look. "hell, double the fries. and a round of the wildfire for me and the gang, papyrus too. we're celebratin'."

"Papyrus??" Rudy and the succubus parroted, both spinning to find his brother's tall head emerging from the jungle of winter coats and snowy fur.

"'TIS I, FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE. I CAN'T BELIEVE I WAS TALKED INTO COMING HERE. THIS IS A MADHOUSE! I CAN'T EVEN--WHAT'S ATTACKING MY FOOT?" Papyrus bent towards the floor and disappeared. A moment later he came back up for air, holding a sausage-shaped pup by the scruff and frowning at the shoelace in its snout. He deposited the dog on a table, hobbled over to the bar and threaded his left boot back into place.

Sans offered him his usual chair, since all the others were packed. "glad you made it, bro." Papyrus reluctantly climbed onto the stool, treating every surface of the bar as if it were made of acid. He then sighed as Sans waved at him from the floor. "OH, YOU..." He picked up his brother and sat him on the countertop with ease. His brow creased as he looked Sans in the face. "WHAT'S THAT STUFF ON YOUR HEAD? IS THIS A COSTUME PARTY?"

Sans snickered and peeled off the disguise. "nah, just getting in the mood for dog night. no costume necessary to join the fun."

Papyrus's uneasy expression softened. "WELL GOOD, BECAUSE I'M ONLY DOING THIS FOR YOU. YOU KNOW HOW I FEEL ABOUT ALL THIS..." His hand hovered over the bar, the rowdy crowd and the bottles of liquor arrayed on the shelves before settling his complaint on, "...GREASE!"

A little puff of flame issued from the top of Grillby's head as he broke out the shot glasses. If he was offended by Papyrus, she'd never know. Rez reached over to lay a large, friendly paw on Papyrus's shoulder. "Welcome to the gang, pal."

Papyrus looked dismayed. "OH, BUT I'M NOT EQUIPPED FOR GANG INITIATIONS. THAT'S TWICE IN ONE DAY I RUE NOT WEARING MY COOL SNEAKERS! FOR STYLE, THIS TIME."

Rez gave a hefty laugh. "I like your brother, Sans! His sense of humor's somethin' else."

"yeah, my brother's the coolest," Sans agreed, and something across their link told her that he was being completely sincere. She wondered what it was like, having a brother. ...Or any kind of family, much less someone she liked and admired as much as Sans and Papyrus did one another. She didn't suppose her brood-mates counted, and gods only knew where they were off dying in the name of the Archmage, now.

She wasn't sure whether it was the lighting in Grillby's or what, but Papyrus appeared to blush--another oddity for a skull. "O-OH HEY, WHAT ARE THESE?" he deflected, picking up one of the shots Grillby set out next to them. "SUCH TINY DRINKS. HOW QUAINT!"

Rudy sniggered into his sleeve. Rez picked up his glass, elbowed Papyrus and offered a grin that was toothy and jagged, yet warm. "You'll like it, my friend."

"you drink it in one big gulp, like cough syrup," Sans supplied, and quaffed his own drink to demonstrate. Papyrus squished a look of distaste. "YUCK, MEDICINE. BUT I'LL TRY IT, JUST THIS ONCE...!"

The succubus and Rudy lost their composure immediately, cackling hard at Papyrus's knee-jerk reaction to the fiery liquor. His bones rattled enough to be heard over the din of dogs. "OH DEAR GOD, IF I A HAD A THROAT IT WOULD BE ON FIRE, WHAT-" Papyrus shook his head fiercely. "THAT WAS PURE ALCOHOL, WASN'T IT? I CAN'T BELIEVE HOW... HOW TERRIBLE IT TASTES! WHY DO YOU DRINK IT??"

Rez and Sans's laughter was a little more sympathetic. "It's an acquired taste!" the former assured him. "you can thank us later," his brother said.

"Why are we celebrating, anyhow?" Rudy asked.

"well..." Sans hesitated, stretching a wide grin towards his brother. "want to tell 'em what we did today, paps?"

Papyrus shot up straight at the memory. "OH GOD, IT WAS TERRIBLE."

"you laughed."

"I DID N..." The denial on his face wavered. "I DID. BUT ONLY AFTER NOBODY GOT HURT!"

She sneered, delighted to take part in this. "What about the one that hit the tree and started spinning mid-air?"

That mere reminder set Sans to chuckling, while Papyrus covered his face with his hands. "NO, IT REALLY WASN'T FUNNY!"

"You can't keep us in suspense like this, guys," Rez prodded. Sans told a brief-and-brutal version of their assault on the lumber yard, managing one more joke about "limited cat-alities" while he was at it. Papyrus groaned throughout, Rudy and Rez looked astonished, and Grillby's expression was reserved as always, although he seemed to slow his work on the dishes the further the story progressed.

"Where did you get all those cats??" the hamster wondered.

'That is something I would like to know, myself,' Grillby joined in.

Sans leaned on the counter and turned a smug look to the ceiling. "trade secret."

"You have no trade, you shiftless slob," she derided him. She straightened with a fresh thought. "Wait, I can cuss now. Fucker! You're a fucker. Shit, that feels good."

Rudy's buck teeth gleamed under Grillby's firelight as his snout split with a grin. "Ahaha! That's right! You guys nipped that shit in the bud. Damn, so that's why I haven't seen Malk's sorry mug tonight! He must be mad as a bat."

"More like a cat on a hot tin roof," Rez remarked, and Sans gave him a slap on the back in appreciation.

"NO," Papyrus corrected. "THAT ROOF WASN'T HOT AT ALL. IT'S TOO COLD-" He then registered the cheesy grins surrounding him. "OH, IT'S A TURN OF PHRASE. VERY FUNNY."

'You're all terrible,' Grillby upbraided them, a slight lilt to his tone betraying his good humor.

"I cannot believe you guys pulled that off," Rudy said. He remained in a state of disbelief for the next hour, as Papyrus did his best to keep up with both the succubus's and his brother's drinking. Luckily for Papyrus, Sans was more dedicated to getting trashed on burgers and fries than alcohol. At some point Grillby prodded his wide little butt off the counter and into Papyrus's lap, and the bigger younger brother didn't look the least discomfited by the burden.

"SO WARM," Papyrus hummed, expression distorted in a pleased sort of way as he held Sans tightly. "MY BROTHER IS TOASTY!"

The hug squeezed a hiccup out of Sans. "-hic! sounds like i'm not the only one."

Rudy guffawed at that, holding up another bottle of booze. "We're all getting toasted tonight!"

Cuddly drunk skeletons, how, she blearily thought as she finished her third mug of that blueberry concoction she liked. "You two shits are adorable," she said, and a snippy part of her mind checked her against finding things cute again.

"WHAT? NNNO," Papyrus objected, swaying to face her. Sans leaned the other way, clutching the bar for balance before they both hit the floor. "YOU MUST MEAN 'FORMIDABLE.' THE GREAT PAPYRUS IS VERY FORMIDABLE! THE WORDS SOUND ALIKE, SO I UNDERSTAND YOUR MISTAKE."

"I meant what I said, you lanky bastard." She smiled and slumped against her neighbors, one arm slung around Papyrus's shoulders. "Great espers, I'm absolutely hammered--I mean, happy. Happy! I'm so glad I get to corrupt you both."

"Ah, seduction of the innocent," Rez sang. "Such a beautiful, terrible thing."

While she over-indulged on beer, Sans stuffed himself with grub--funnily, to similar effect. There was a dizzy, giddy thrumming across their link, even as Sans tugged on the waistband of his pants and winced. His shirt rode up as his gut slipped free, exposing a sliver of fizzling blue energy deep in his normally invisible belly. The sight was a little grotesque and impressive at once.

Looking for his next diversion, Sans called on the next person to walk by. "oh hey grillbz, show paps your trick."

Papyrus was immediately hooked. "WHAT? I LOVE TRICKS! CAN HE PULL A COIN FROM MY EAR?"

"you don't have ears. and nah, this is better. com'on grillby, he's never seen it."

Grillby stopped and fumbled with his spectacles. 'I shouldn't...'

That funny, drunken aggression started to swell inside her. "Hah! What're you, bashful? Show us a trick, you flaming pussy."

Rudy drummed against the bar. "Do it do it do it do it!" It only took a moment to get Rez and a shaggy brown dog to join the chant.

Grillby silenced them with an upheld glove. 'All right.'

The group watched eagerly as the barkeep grabbed a tumbler and three unlabeled bottles from the back shelf. He poured the three into the glass with measured grace, took the mixture and 'drank' it (as much as splashing liquid into his nondescript face constitutes drinking.) His innate fire magic caught it splendidly, the flame turning bright green, then red, and then blue, before fading back to his usual orange complexion. A dozen patrons cheered in appreciation.

"WOWIE! THAT'S IMPRESSIVE," Papyrus noted.

"yep, that's why grillby's a pro."

The barkeep's flame turned a shade of pink as he ducked back into work. Doggo suddenly appeared at the bar, looking surprised. "Papyrus! Didn't know you were here, pal. You owe us a rematch! Been weeks since that round'a Go Fish."

Papyrus balked at him. "WHAT? OH, NO, I WON'T HAVE ANY OF THAT CHEATING AGAIN!"

He didn't have a choice, as Doggo and that shaggy brown gentledog hooked Papyrus by each arm and dragged him towards their table. "W-WAIT, I DIDN'T SIGN UP FOR CARD GAMES! SANS, HELP...!"

Sans was shuffling for balance on the bar stool, since his brotherly support had been removed. "you tell 'em, bro," was his best advice.

"THAT'S NOT A HELP!" was the last thing heard from Papyrus before he was completely roped into playing with a group of eight dogs.

"huh, i take him out for one night and he already gets sucked into the wrong crowd," Sans lamented.

"He'll live. ...Maybe," she consoled him. It wasn't as if she were about to help, either. Helping required getting up, and she was far too content nursing her fourth mug and watching Sans fall asleep over his third plate of chili fries. Perhaps her mark's lethargy was contagious, she mused. Grillby pulled the plate away and roughly rubbed Sans's skull with a huff that almost sounded affectionate.

"Tch," she clucked. "You go so soft on him. I bet he won't even pay for that shit. You two got some kinda history?"

'Nothing serious, if that's what you're implying.'

Her grin bared a pointed canine, goading him. "It's something, though."

Grillby's flame wavered, and then he started speaking. 'You know...' He gestured towards the table where Papyrus was failing to bluff out a pair of cards. Doggo got fed up, grabbed his wrist and slammed it onto the table, exposing his hand with a yelp. 'When those two first showed up, they made quite a spectacle. Papyrus was... inquisitive. About everything. He walked into shops and people's houses and just asked them questions, with no sense of propriety or personal space. I remember one day he walked into my kitchen, asked me if the fish sticks have to swim in the bubbly brown water because they're not whole fish yet, and then stuck his hand in the deep fryer to pet one.'

"Holy shit," she swore.

'Bones can't suffer third degree burns, fortunately. But I fire-proofed the door to the kitchen after that, just in case.' Reading her disparaging look, he continued, 'It was never that he was unintelligent. Papyrus has always been very clever, in his own way. It was just strange to us, at first. He was like a grown child--everything was new to him.'

As it is with golems, she thought.

'Sans was with him much of the time. Sometimes he kept Papyrus out of trouble, and sometimes he encouraged it. The rest of the time, he kept to himself. Nobody spoke with him or knew anything about him, apart from what Papyrus would tell us. The first day he even set foot in here was because of Malk.'

"Malk?"

Grillby nodded (it was one of his few gestures she could understand.) 'I was closing shop that night. Malk left ahead of me, and as he was going through the back-woods to his home, he found Sans in the snow. He had... fallen down.'

He lingered on those words, drawing them out into something strange again, and she finally blurted out, "Why the hell do you people call it 'falling down'? The fuck is that?"

The angle of his spectacles shifted into something quizzical, although he was hard to look at directly after four mugs. 'When monsters die, we turn to dust. But sometimes, monsters get sick or lose hope. Hope and love are things that sustain us, so without it... I suppose on the surface they would call it... a coma, maybe. It's different. It's rare that one recovers from it, all the same.'

She'd suspected it meant something like that--without much of that fey-sounding love and hope crap, at any rate. "Okay, I guess. So, Malk found him like that."

'Yes. He brought him back here, where I could warm him up while Malk went to find Papyrus. I suppose if Malk had not found him that night, no one would have. It was a remote trail, and the snow would have covered his dust overnight.'

She considered that. It seemed to match a certain story she'd heard from Papyrus, so she didn't doubt it was true. So he's saying Sans owes Malk his life? The thought was enough to sober her a bit, but not enough to make her feel guilty. Whatever. He's still a dillweed.

'Sans came by a few days later, to thank us. I suspect Papyrus twisted his arm. I fed him a burger, and he hasn't fully paid off his tab since.'

Sans picked his head off the bar with a yawn. "and i was a fat and happy skeleton ever after. you're killin' me with the sap, grillbz."

A dog covered in patches (both in his fur and on his trench coat) waved an empty flagon. "Hey! You know what we're dying from? Dehydration! It's a damn drought over here."

Grillby sighed and drifted back to work. On his way, he reached over and firmly pressed Sans's head back onto the bar. 'Eavesdroppers hear no good of themselves, you know.'

Sans snickered into the polished wood. "is it eavesdropping if you're doing it right on top of me?" Grillby left him alone to tend to his clientele, and Sans watched him go, rubbing a spot of ketchup that had smeared across his cheek. He licked his fingers, leaned towards a floppy-eared patron and rapped the bar in front of him. "hey buddy, knock knock."

The dog startled, seemed to recognize Sans, and then relaxed with a laugh. "Oh man, it's you. Yeah, I'll bite. Who's there?"
"doughnut."
"Doughnut who?"
Sans nodded at the small white dog lapping from a dish below the bar. "doughnut pull that dog's tail, or he'll bite you!"

The succubus groaned while the recipient of the joke chortled. "Combining your love of food and stupid jokes again, I see. That one was pretty half-baked," she teased him.

He turned a look of coy delight back to her. "hey, there's nothing under-cooked about my jokes. i'm just getting fired up."

She rolled her eyes and turned away, before she got stuck quibbling. "I'm sure."

Sans moved on to harass the next customer with his sense of humor, albeit with as little moving as possible--so basically, anyone within earshot was a target. She was about to signal Grillby for another mug to drown out the cheap laughter, but then she caught sight of someone pushing their way towards the bar. The bulbous head and crest of red feathers helped her realize it was Malk. She smirked, torn between ignoring him and taunting him, and waited to read his mood before acting.

Unfortunately, that hesitation cost her the chance to warn Sans. The skeleton was oblivious until Malk stormed up behind him, yanked back the hood of his jacket, stuffed something inside, and said in a low voice and high dudgeon, "You missed one, bitch."

What happened next unfolded in slow motion--or, she was so drunk it might as well have.

The first thing to get everyone's attention was the word 'bitch.' It plucked a chord in every dog's sensitive ear that had their heads swiveling towards Malk, in varying degrees of interest and insult, just in time to watch Sans flail backwards onto the floor. On the way down he kicked his bar stool into the white dog drinking from a bowl, who yelped and bumped into another chair, causing its occupant to jump and spill his beer over a set of cards on the table Papyrus was playing, ruining Doggo's hand.

Sans scrambled onto his knees, batting at something worming under his coat like it was a hot poker, until its fuzzy orange face broke free around the collar and meowed. The pupils and nostrils of every dog dilated, suddenly as rapt as a school of piranhas at a drop of blood in the tank. There was a long, collectively drunken gasp around the bar, and as all eyes bore into him and the feline stuck in his coat, Sans's fixed grin melted into a look of dread.

What happened after that unfolded very, very quickly.

Doggo flipped the table in a rage, mugs and cards splattering onto the floor. Two of the players had already made a lunge for the cat and were out of harm's way, but a third was knocked into a growing puddle of beer and broken glass. A fourth was bowled onto an adjacent table and then smashed in the knees with the chair that shot out from under Papyrus as he bolted towards his brother. "SANS!"

The space Sans occupied became a blurry pile of snarling, slobbering fur in a heartbeat, the smallest dogs in the pub getting to the action the quickest. The succubus could barely follow what, who and where, yet one moment Sans was at the bottom of the heap, and the next he was clambering out of an empty booth and towards the door, the cat stapled to his skull as if it were a life preserver off a sinking ship.

Papyrus fell on the dog pile the next instant, belatedly noticing his brother's escape and clubbing a pomeranian with a conjured bone. The little dogs scattered, dazed, yet before Papyrus got his bearings he was struck in the face with an airborne dog from across the bar. Doggo took a punch from a husky he'd nearly crushed with the table, starting a fist-fight that escalated into a four-way brawl once the husky's friends got invested. Three dogs sitting in a booth got the idea to throw their drinks (and every drink on the next table) into the storm, but most shots went high and wide, raining cocktails across the bar. Rudy huddled by the jukebox, holding his jacket up around his head to buffet against shrapnel, until one rogue bottle burst against the cabinet, shooting sparks that shorted out the pub music indefinitely. If the succubus didn't know any better, she'd say Malk had the ability to teleport as well, because next she saw he was ducking behind the safe cover of the bar, just in time for a husky to be thrown over the counter and into the wall. The dog was knocked out on impact, cracking an entire shelf of liquor in half and sending bottles tumbling down around him.

The succubus dove to the ground before becoming the next casualty. She spied the tail of Sans's coat as it slipped out the door, but so did every dog on the local sentry squad, which had refused to give up the scent of cat. Dogamy gave an unintelligible battle cry, picked up the pole axe he'd used on his shift and threw it at the nearest window, shattering it. Doggo knocked a tooth out of someone with an elbow jab, picked up a pair of daggers, and kicked through the door in pursuit. Greater Dog threw his entire self--massive plate armor and all--through another window, peppering the sidewalk with warmly-toned glass shards. Two more dogs from the squad then barreled through the destroyed storefront and after Sans.

The succubus vaulted over a living pin-cushion of hair and bone (many of those belonging to Papyrus) and staggered onto the street. She didn't linger to catch Grillby's reaction to the cat-induced bedlam, yet one glimpse of his body language said that he was livid.

She stopped in a swath of churned-up snow and looked for the direction the stampede of canines had headed. She then broke into a run, following the trail around a street corner and deeper into town. Just as she passed a narrow alley, one of its indigo shadows reached out and sucked her in. Her fists and the loudest curse in her arsenal were about to be unleashed before she realized the hand clamped around her arm belonged to Sans.

"Titty-fucking Shiva," she swore quietly, stepping back. "How did you lose all those dogs?"

"took a shortcut," Sans replied, as if it were all natural to him. He was still grappling with the cat, gingerly trying to pry its tiny claws out of his eyes. "ow-ow-ow, a little help?"

She grabbed the pitiful thing by the scruff and ripped it off his skull like a band-aid. Sans made a sound that her em-reading could have translated into eight different swear words.

"You're welcome," she said flatly, and set the cat on the ground.

Sans rubbed his sore scalp and turned his grin up to her. "heh. did you come after me?"

"What? No, I..." suppose I did, without even thinking about it. "I just wanted to see where this shit-show was going. It got fucking crazy in there. Grillby looked pissed-off."

"about as pissed as malk, apparently," he noted, and lent a sympathetic look to the cat. It sat in a heap of shock and then found its wits, dashing away.

Then, a dog barked. The cat stopped short, abruptly turned and skittered back up Sans's legs and into his coat. "no no no no--arrrgh!" the skeleton wailed as his short arms fumbled to catch it.

The succubus looked to the head of the alley and found the culprit: that small white dog had found them. It hopped in place and yapped excitedly. She put her meanest foot forward. "Scram, you little shit."

"It's over here, guys!" Too late. Five sentries, a family of pomeranians, two huskies and three generally shaggy dogs swarmed behind the little white dog, crowding the dead-end alley with heaving panting and growling. Every one of them was bright-eyed, hungry and slavering-drunk.

Sans picked a prickly paw out of one of his sockets and slowly focused his eye-lights on the assembly. "uh..."

"Fuck," she finished for him.

Lesser Dog charged in first, and three more dogs sprang to life behind him. The succubus drew her leg back, prepared to punt a bitch clean into the next block, but then a volley of short bones cut across their path and knocked Lesser Dog off his feet. Sans recognized the attack pattern right away and called out, "bro!"

Papyrus skidded into view, breaking up the circle of mutts and hefting a long, magically-produced bone like a staff. He held it between himself and the throng and said with an impressive volume of authority, "HOLD IT, MONGREL FRIENDS! THAT'S AN INNOCENT FELINE AND MY LESS-THAN-INNOCENT BROTHER YOU'RE ABOUT TO CHOW ON!"

"paps they're kind of riled-up and shit-faced," Sans started to warn him. "i don't think they're gonna listen to reason."

"NONSENSE, THERE HAS TO BE A NON-VIOLENT SOLUTION WE CAN ALL A-" Lesser Dog sank his teeth into the bone weapon while two of the smaller dogs bit down on Papyrus's shins. "ACK! " He teetered off guard and tried to shake the dogs off. The sudden movement stirred the onlookers into a frenzy, and then half a dozen more jaws, daggers and an axe were pouring into the alley.

"Fuck it!" the succubus asserted, and ran into a fight. One dog's muzzle gave a satisfying crack against her knuckles while two yipping runts connected with her foot. The axe-happy one made a chopping leap at her back, and she had to roll out of the way before her wing was taken out of commission again. She bounced onto her hands, sent Dogamy sailing into a trash pail with a bucking kick, and then jumped back up in time to snatch one of Doggo's wrists and twist the dagger out of his hand. Doggo yelped, snarled, and swung his other dagger towards her neck. Reflexively she blocked his arm with her elbow and swiped her free claws across his face. Doggo stumbled back, screaming and pawing at his eyes.

"NO NO NO! THIS IS THE OPPOSITE OF NON-VIOLENT!" Papyrus swatted a rabid pair off his heels and then wrested his long bone back from Lesser Dog. While the succubus wove around two snapping jaws to land a spinning kick on Greater Dog's flank, Papyrus took Sans by the arm and broke out of the alley. "IT'S TIME TO RUN, BROTHER!"

With his shorter legs, Sans skated behind Papyrus almost comically, feet only connecting with the ground every other step. The succubus bought just enough time for the pair to disappear around the next street corner, and then some dog made a sloppy, rumbling noise that loosely translated to, "The cat's getting away!" The pack immediately gave up sparring with a half-dragon and honed in on the fresh trail--they launched after their quarry so swiftly that the succubus was swept to the ground. She rolled upright, rubbed her haunches and cursed, yet they were already gone.

"I gotta catch those big hairy crotch-sniffers...!" she muttered as she unfurled her wings. She wasn't too drunk to try wind magic, right? She didn't have her crystal charm to channel the foreign energy, but brawling in the icy streets worked wonders for her sobriety, so it seemed to balance out. Her wings heaved against one strong magic draught, and then picked her up and over some rooftops.

It wasn't hard to find the skeletons. They'd been backed into another dead-end road that opened to the river. Still more dogs were feeding into the mob from side-alleys, making at least two dozen strong, and lights were flickering on in the surrounding houses as Snowdin woke up to see what was going down. Sans had hunkered down, face planted in the snow and limbs tucked into his jacket like a cowering tortoise. Papyrus stood over him and swung a bone like a sword, keeping a few bouncing pups at bay. The rest of the pack simmered around them, all eyes glued to the cat that was still clinging relentlessly to Sans.

She circled the block once, tipped her wings into a swoop and aimed for that guy with the axe...

Crash. ...and planted her feet in some flowers. The pot shattered into a mess of soil and snow, and she felt a clay shard rip open her knee. She plucked herself out of the flora and realized she successfully got everyone's attention, at least.

"I'm not drunk! I fucking meant to do that," she said.

The dog pack blinked at her, either not convinced or not comprehending. Sans seized the distraction by tearing the cat off his head (again, with another curse she couldn't translate.) He then--with the most range of motion she'd ever seen from him--took three long strides towards the river and pitched the cat into it. The feline screamed for a good twenty feet before plunging into black ice.

Every dog startled and their jaws dropped, distraught. A few dashed to the riverbank, but then stopped short of getting wet. Papyrus looked cross.

"SANS! CATS ARE ALLERGIC TO WATER!"

Sans huffed and rubbed the hairline scratches covering his bones. "and i'm allergic to getting eaten by dogs. somethin' had to give."

A chorus of barking alerted the group to the cat's survival. The pack tripped over themselves to follow the orange fur-ball as it clawed for purchase on the opposite bank. It escaped the water and kept running, along the skirt of a storehouse and behind a couple of trash bins before squeezing underneath a dumpster.

As the cat slipped out of sight, the dumpster let out a strange... cry. It sounded like it came from an unholy fusion of animal and mineral, warbling and distorted behind the dumpster's steel plates, and every dog's ears pricked to tune it in. The succubus watched a singular, ravenous look ripple across the mob, and then they all galloped closer. Even Greater Dog's massive form loped after them like a runaway train with one wheel too big, kicking snow and turf across the road.

The succubus baffled at the noise. "What in the great elder dragon's ballsack was that?"

Papyrus cringed all over, as if crushed with a thought. He turned a long look of disdain towards his brother. "SANS."

A bead of sweat gathered on the side of Sans's frozen expression. "yeah?"

"WHEN I ASKED YOU TO REMOVE ALL THOSE CATS, WHERE DID YOU PUT THEM?"

"...uh." His eye-lights darted around the ground, as if he could cobble an explanation that Papyrus would buy from snow and a broken pot of hydrangeas. He then looked up and held out his hands. "okay, hear me out. you remember that show, the catillac cats?"

If anything, this distressed Papyrus all the more. "SANS..."

"they lived in the dump, right? one of 'em even had, like, a mansion made out of a jumbo jet."

"SANS...!"

"so i figure, hey, cats love the dump. and what's the quickest ticket to the dump? a dumpster. am i right or what?"

"SANS, YOU DID NOT PUT FIFTY CATS INTO A DUMPSTER!"

Sans waved that notion off, nonchalance failing to mask the guilty anxiety--the succubus could feel it across their link so hard it was making her nauseous. Hell, Papyrus could probably smell it, she thought. "noooo, of course not."

A beat.

"...i could only fit, like, thirty in there."

If anyone could melt with horror, Papyrus looked ready to do it. The succubus whirled around just in time to watch Greater Dog up-end the entire dumpster with brute strength. The lid crashed open and a sea of cats spilled out, overwhelming the dog mob and dispersing into the surrounding neighborhood like a tiny herd of deranged calico cattle.

"Shiver me mother fuckers...!" Many of the little beasts swarmed their way, and the succubus danced around both the deluge of cats and the manic dogs trying to give chase. She hoisted herself up the nearest light pole to get clear of the carnage, and could only watch as the destruction fanned out in all directions.

Lesser Dog and three cohorts wrecked the tidy tables outside the cafe, a picket fence was bulldozed by Greater Dog, and a band of shaggy mutts obliterated a frozen treat stand that three cats were trying to take refuge in. Residents and store-owners started to rush out, shouting complaints, yet it only invited six cats and four dogs into people's open doorways, bringing the riot into their living rooms. Altogether it sounded like a storm of mewing, yapping and gnashing teeth that cascaded across town like a foul breeze across a field of echo flowers.

Papyrus was on his knees, jaw hanging so low she thought it might drop off. "OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD. THIS IS A DISASTER." He clambered to his feet, picking up his resolve. "WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING! THE TOWN'S GETTING DESTROYED!"

"The goddamn flood gate's already open," she said. "The hell you gonna do about this clusterfuck now?"

Sans was sitting in the middle of the road, blinking mutely at the wreckage in progress. Papyrus yanked him to his feet and shook him like a rag doll. "SANS, WE'RE GOING TO CATCH ALL THESE CONFOUNDED CATS!"

The rough treatment rattled Sans out of his shock. "h-how?"

"Malk still has a bunch of fishing nets?" she offered lamely.

"NYEH, NETS! YES, SANS, YOU'RE GOING TO GET NETS. THE FORTUNE TELLER AND I WILL TRY TO CORRAL THESE CATS!" Papyrus vigorously pointed into the air, punctuating the plan. "YES, WE'LL SAVE EVERYONE AN-"

A whisk of cyan cut Papyrus off, inches from his nasal cavity. He and the succubus followed its path and discovered Sans suddenly a dozen feet away, pinned to the wall of a house by his sleeve with a five-foot lance of magic.

"NNNNNNNNGGGAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!"

The three of them whipped a look to the rooftops, where--Oh god DAMNIT--the succubus's psychotic, fish-finned rival was poised atop a chimney, another magic spear in hand. For a moment, Papyrus was as impressed as he was alarmed. "CAPTAIN UNDYNE! YOU GOT HERE REALLY QUICKLY!"

She beamed hideously at him (the succubus thought something about her looked odd, but she couldn't put her finger on it.) "Of course I did! The trouble you guys caused stank so bad, even the fish were complaining!"

Papyrus reeled back and stammered, "I-I CAN EXPLA-"

"Can it!!" He was interrupted once again. "I don't want to hear a damn thing! I'm going to run every last one of these stinking hair-balls out of town myself! And THEN-" Undyne levelled her spear at him and snarled, her toothy visage suddenly more intimidating than every dog on the planet. "We'll talk about your punishment!"

"B-BUT WE DIDN'T MEAN TO-"

A hailstorm of spears buried Papyrus's objection, one of them skewering his scarf and driving the skeleton to the ground like a spindly nail. "YIPES!"

The succubus made a matching noise (albeit more manly) and twisted out of dodge, but only well enough for one spear to rip through the webbing of her wings and fasten her to the sidewalk, as well. Undyne's magic was like a bolt of cold lightning that left her thrashing, unable to either grasp or resist it. "Gahhh...! Damn crazy bitch!"

"Don't any of you knuckleheads move a muscle!! I'll be back for your sorry hides," Undyne proclaimed, and then leapt away like a superhero into the night. The succubus and skeleton brothers were left no choice but to wait, pinned to the spot like bugs under glass.

Sans dangled off the ground, trapped in a shrug. "...this isn't how i meant to hang out with you guys tonight, heh."

"SANS NO," Papyrus whimpered, looking crushed and crumpled in the snow. His brother was mercifully quiet after that.

"This fucking hurts," the succubus griped to no one in particular. The magic spear wasn't agonizing, per se--amazingly it didn't even pierce the skin--but it left her buckled in an awkward position that frostbite from the cold street wasn't helping.

Undyne made quick work of the cats, spurring them with volleys of spears until every last one scurried out of city limits. Some fled in the direction of Waterfall, some disappeared into the woods, and a particularly unlucky group was herded straight into the river, cyan rods rammed up their tiny tail-pipes. The dogs weren't treated much better, each one bludgeoned into submission by Captain Undyne personally. The succubus could hear their demoralized yelps and yips at the end of every punch and suplex.

At last, after what felt like the longest hour of her life, the bedraggled sentry squad was marched down the road to join the succubus and her hapless cohorts. Undyne had the sobered mutts squat in line on the sidewalk, and then she stood in the middle of the street and waved her arm, dispelling her remaining magic. The succubus groaned in relief, Sans hit the ground with a soft plop, and Papyrus's vertebrae crackled as he sat up.

"You dumbasses!" the captain boomed over the lot. "Assault on a puppy, destruction of property, drinking on duty--god. damn. cats!! You should all be ashamed of yourselves! You're a disgrace to Snowdin, never mind the squad! Aren't you supposed to be protecting the town, not trashing it up??"

Lesser Dog and Greater Dog hung their heads and whined. Dogamy wrung his pole-arm in his paws miserably. Doggo rocked in place, huffing and scrubbing his face. Undyne snapped a look to the skeleton edging along the wall, trying not-too-subtly to escape. "I didn't say you were free to go, dweeb!!" With a snap of the fingers she conjured another spear and flung it at Sans.

This time it caught the hood of his jacket before sticking him to the wall again. "urk...!"

Undyne stomped up to him and jabbed his flabby side with a sharp finger. The succubus almost felt it, and flinched on his behalf. "I don't even know how all this started, but I'm willing to bet every clam shell in goddamn Waterfall that YOU had something to do with it!"

Sans wriggled in place and chuckled, looking positively sheepish. "eheh, now what makes you say that...?"

She didn't bother pressing him for answers, instead turning on his brother. "And Papyrus!! Your brother's a lazy, conniving disaster, so I'm not surprised at him, but I'm sure as hell disappointed in you. You're better than this!"

Papyrus continued to wither under her scolding. "I'M SORRY, CAPTAIN UNDYNE..."

And then--as if Undyne just realized she was there--her ire rolled onto the dragon-lady. Before the succubus could dare ask what the fuck are you looking at, the point of a spear was digging under her chin. "You!!"

The succubus only succeeded at grimacing back at her. "The fuck did I do??"

"Brought all this trouble to town, is what! You've been a pain in the ass since ya got here! I knew I shouldn't have trusted you, and now look what's happened...!"

"You can't pin all this horseshit on me!" she shrieked back. "Those fucking cats weren't even mine!"

"Oh yeah??" Undyne pressed the spear an inch closer, sending paralyzing prickles down her spine and severing her breath. "Then whose were they?"

"They...!" were Sans's, every last one. The words died in her throat. Her gaze skipped to Papyrus, who was looking at her with such an expression of earnest worry that she couldn't even bring herself to get angry enough to sell out his brother (meanwhile, Sans was probably wearing the same shitty, infuriating grin he wore for all occasions.)

Suddenly, the odd detail about the captain struck her, like a coin hitting the bottom of a well of alcohol, exhaustion and anger. "Hey!" the succubus blurted out. "The fuck happened to your face?"

"OH," Papyrus forgot to act subdued for a moment, curiosity drawn to the black leather patch across Undyne's left eye. "WHAT HAPPENED? DID YOU GET HURT?"

Undyne withdrew her spear and touched her cheek in a flash of self-consciousness. She then shook her head and sputtered incredulously, "Phhhb, me?? Hurt? Never! It takes more than some trigger-happy human to make mince-meat outta me!"

"Human??" The dogs lifted their heads, wide-eyed with intrigue (even Doggo, although his eyes were puffy and weeping, forcing him to squint.) Papyrus looked positively star-struck. "YOU FOUGHT A HUMAN??"

Undyne shoved her spear into the ground so hard it exploded like a thunderclap, making the group shrink back. "Hey, stay focused! I'm not done lecturing you spazzes! Who do you think's gonna pay for all these damages, huh?? I'm gonna have people crawling up my butt for weeks until this mess is fixed! I've got half a mind to fire the lot'a ya, but then there wouldn't be any sentries left, so..."

Undyne swept a critical look over the group, and then her fins splayed with a devilish grin. "That's it! A drunk tank!"

Dogamy's heavy brows knitted together. "We don't have a tank...?"

Undyne stamped a foot (for an instant, the succubus saw a resemblance to Papyrus.) "No, stupid! I'm talking about throwing you all in the pokey!"

"Our town has a 'pokey'?" Doggo had to ask, and this question bought Papyrus the courage to stand up and wave an offering.

"OH, CAPTAIN UNDYNE, I HAVE A SHED WE COULD USE! IT'S GOT PLENTY OF ROOM, AND THE SUPPORT BEAMS WOULD MAKE EXCELLENT BARS, WITH A FEW MODIFICA..."

The hard stares coming from the succubus, his brother and two of the four dogs (one of which didn't have working eyes, but damned if that didn't stop Doggo from glaring mightily) were what made Papyrus trail off. He ruefully lowered his hand.

"...OH. I SHOULDN'T BE VOLUNTEERING THAT INFORMATION, SHOULD I?"

tags: Animation, Undertale

e-mail: myshu@esperjunction.com

All characters and trademarks apply to their respective owners. All other site content © Esper Junction 2009-2018. Site hosted by Angelfire.