The Moon in the Dark

Long ago, the Monsters and Humans fought a great war. The Monsters lost, and were sealed in the Underground. It would take the power of seven human souls to break the barrier that kept them imprisoned. They only had six. And so the Monsters waited and hoped, praying that another human would find their way to the Underground. Some thought the seventh soul would give their King the strength to break the barrier. Some dreamed of a human who would be their friend, and save them all...or had nightmares of one who would bring back the war.
...but nobody came.
...but somepony did.
Eons after the war, with no way to tell how much time had passed above, a tiny blue filly with wings and horn fell into the underground, calling for her Mama. None knew the poor creature's nature or origins...but her soul was powerful with magic, even more so than a human soul.
None can know what will come...of this little 'Woona'.
http://www.fimfiction.net/story/303673/the-moon-in-the-dark

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52. Seeing Red

Woona desperately spread her tiny wings to slow her descent as she fell through what seemed like empty space for a long time.  Eventually, her senses adjusted, and she saw dandelions floating through the air around her.  She wasn't sure what to make of it, but didn't have much time to think about it as she soon came to a halt on solid ground she couldn't see far below the floating weeds.  Groaning, she pushed herself to her hooves.

Woona...what did you do? Chara demanded angrily.

I took a shortcut, Woona whimpered back in her mind.  But...I didn't have enough magic to reach the other end...

Then we could have wound up anywhere! Chara scolded her.  Or even anywhen!  Why would you take such a risk?

You...you were going to kill Alphys... Woona explained sorrowfully.  It was...the only way I could stop you...

Why did you stop me? Chara demanded angrily, power and fury strong in his mental voice.

...because I didn't want to lose you to the empty dark again... Woona offered back, barely able to shape the thought from how much Chara's fury hurt her.

Chara froze as he was about to yell at her again, gazing down at his astral form.  He could see the red of his rage that had infused it, and the dark shadows racing through his being once more, the ones that had dominated him as he sat over his grave, waiting for one who could be his tool to bring about destruction...the shadows Woona had worked so hard to purge from him.  Shuddering, he pushed his rage back, pulling the magical energy that infused him inward, pushing it back into Woona's body.  The red glow faded from his form, as did the shadows, as the realization of how close he'd come to throwing everything away again came to the fore of his mind.  I'm...I'm sorry, Woona.

It's okay, Chara, Woona replied softly.  Now we just...need to figure out how to get back.

Why can't you use a shortcut? Chara demanded.

For those to work, I need to know start and end coordinates, Woona explained.  I have no idea where we are.

At that moment, FIGHT lines appeared around Woona, trapping her in place as they glowed extra strong.  She could tell from sight that they would prevent her from running from this FIGHT, which was both worrying and intriguing.

Maybe she knows? Chara offered as Woona turned to face the monster that had created the FIGHT.

The monster was, to all appearances, a young humanoid girl in an al-covering red cloak, the bottom of her face and her tiny feet the only things visible beneath it and the cowl.  A large bow held it shut at her neck, and it quickly became apparent that her face was actually a mask she was wearing, though one that shifted in expression on occasion.  Woona wasn't sure if that meant the mask was a part of her, or just magical equipment.  The name "Red" appeared over her head as the magic of the FIGHT lines took hold.

Little Red Riding Hood? Chara thought, confused.

Shrugging it off, Woona decided to keep her promise and try to make friends.  "Hi, I'm Woona!" she greeted warmly.  "It's so nice to see a friendly face!"

"My face isn't friendly," Red responded curtly as her magic took shape, forming cross-hairs that tracked Woona as she dodged before seeming to split as though cut by a sword.

Woona gulped nervously.  "I'm a little lost," Woona offered.  "Could you point the way back to Snowdin?  Or Waterfall?"  When there was no response, Woona's voice quavered.  "Hotland?  ...the Core?"

"Seriously?" Red demanded angrily as buzz-saws of magic danced around Woona's side of the FIGHT area, though not close enough to actually hit her when she held perfectly still.  "Are you seriously doing this?"

"Doing...what?" Woona asked confused.  "Why are you attacking me?  I don't wanna fight...I just wanna be friends-"

"Would you shut up?!" Red snarled, her cowl lifting to reveal a furiously glaring topaz eye.  "I don't know where you got the idea...but I'm not interested in being your friend!  Fight me!"

With that, Red drew a sword as she spread her cloak, revealing a robe bearing the Delta Rune, a symbol worn by the Royal Guard.  As she swung her blade, a line of light appeared across the FIGHT area.  Woona desperately backed off the line before the area split momentarily in twain, leaving Woona trapped in a much smaller FIGHT area.

"So keep that garbage to yourself!" Red screamed out.

OOOOOOOH WHAT THE!!!! Chara screamed out, stunned.

"You can do that?" Woona gasped out, stunned.

"You may not know about me, but I've already heard about you!" Red snapped, conjuring the spinning blades again.  Once more, she split the FIGHT area, and the blades followed the split, forcing Woona to flee from them.  "And everything I've heard...it just makes me sick!"

Woona took a few deep breaths, trying to figure out what to do here.  Is...is she serious?  Does she not want peace?

No, Chara countered, his spiritual gaze focused on Red's face.  Something about the way she's talking...Woona, I know this is asking a lot after what I just did, but-

Go for it, Chara, Woona replied.  I'll follow your lead.

Chara hesitated.  ...you realize I have no way of knowing if I'm doing the right thing, right?  That this is just a gut feeling...minus the actual guts?

As long as you keep mine inside me, Woona replied.

As Red hurled a grenade and began to split the FIGHT area again, Chara lunged out of Woona, knocking the grenade out of the ring as he clashed his knife against her sword.  "I have to admit," he teased softly, "you're certainly a cut above the rest.  However, you need to keep your wits sharp if you want to tango with me."

Red's eyes widened when Chara caught her blow, but narrowed at the jokes he threw her way.  "S-seriously?" she stammered, the mouth on her mask pulled into a firm, stubborn line...that quivered at the edges.  "Are you really trying to turn this into a big joke?"  She leaped back, striking with magic behind her blade to unleash a flurry of blows that slashed across the entire FIGHT area.

Woona pulled herself into an unaffected corner while Chara shrank down and slipped through the spaces.  "Would you rather I said it was knife to meet you?" he asked as he lunged in, forcing Red to dance back out of the way of the deadly blade.

"W-what nonsense is this?!" Red demanded, her eyes clenched shut and her mouth in a quavering line as she slashed repeatedly at Chara, only for him to deflect each and every strike.  "You're not taking me seriously!"

"And you're missing my point," Chara countered, flashing in past her strikes and leaving his knife point against her mask, right between her eyes.  "It's the FIGHT I'm not taking seriously, not you."

"The hell are you talking about?" Red demanded as she struck him aside, now gripping her sword with both hands as she shook with unidentifiable emotion.

"Let's clash for a bit, and I'll show you," Chara offered, lunging in and deliberately clashing his knife against her sword.

Desperately, Red met the charge with one of her own, desperately struggling to overpower the spirit fighting her, only for each attack to be brushed aside almost carelessly, and none of the openings in her defense - however obvious - taken advantage of.  "W-what do you think you're doing?" she demanded, her voice now quavering.

"Making friends...my way," Chara replied.

"I told you I don't want to-"

"But you do," Chara countered.  "You've watched Woona and I for so long, and what you've seen touches you deeply.  You desperately want to be friends...but you've seen what becomes of everyone who falls from the surface.  What's the point of caring if you know you're just going to lose them, am I right?"

Red staggered a few steps back, now holding up her sword defensively in front of her body.  "H...how do you...?"

"Because I recognize the face on that mask," Chara replied softly.  "I've seen it often enough...in reflecting pools, in mirrors, and in the void staring back at me from my own shadow.  I know the thoughts behind it well, as I've had them all before.  "There's evil in everyone, why believe in the good?"  "They'll all die eventually, why waste your life caring?"  "You're just going to lose them, and you don't need that pain again."  "If life is just pain, why not embrace death?"  Sound familiar?"

Red's sword lowered as she continued to stare, her eyes quivering.

"As I said, I've been there," Chara continued, putting his own knife away.  "Before I threw myself down Mt. Ebott...as I watched my brother die...saw him transformed into an empty shell...watched more siblings taken in by my mother fall one after the other...I'd given up.  I was much further along the path into darkness, despair, and nihilism than you currently are..."  Pausing, he gestured to Woona.  "And she saved me.  She took me into her own soul, refused to believe I was beyond help, and slowly but surely leeched the shadows out of my being..."  He spread his arms, showing the pale silvery glow that surrounded his image.  "And here I am now, no longer a nihilistic wraith...instead merely a ghost, becoming himself again...the self I wish I'd always been."  Slipping past Red's sword, he wrapped his spectral arms around her.  "It would be poor repayment indeed if I didn't try to do the same for you."

Red stared at Chara for a time, then sank to her knees, her sword clattering from her hand as she clung to Chara in tears.  "But...but you'll both just...die...when you fight Asgore..."

"We aren't going to fight Asgore," Chara told her.  "We have a different plan for that.  Woona knows what she's doing...and I'll be right by her side."

Red sobbed softly.  "You...you really think so?"

"I'm sure of it," Chara replied.  "She saved me.  Pretty sure she can do anything.  Besides...we plan to break the barrier, and let everyone out.  And...she's going to save our brother, Asriel, too."

Red's sobs started to quiet.  "I...I guess I can...believe once more..."  She started to reach for her face.

"May I?" Chara asked, his hand on the mask.  Nervously, Red nodded.  Woona wasn't able to see what was there when Chara removed the mask, but she saw the tenderness when he wiped her tears away.  "You know, you should think about not wearing that mask sometime," Chara offered playfully.  "Underneath, you're actually kinda cute."

Red promptly shoved the mask back over her face.  "S-shut up!" she snapped angrily, making Chara laugh.  "It's not funny!"  She tried to punch him, only for her fist to go right through his arm.  "Oh, you better watch out if you ever get physical!"

Chara grinned lasciviously.  "Promise?"

"GAH!" Red gasped out, pulling her cowl down over her face.  She started to say more, but a loud grumbling interrupted her.  "...guess I should have eaten before I came out here..."

Smiling, Woona promptly laid out a blanket and plates, setting up a picnic with her supplies.  She filled the plates with spider donuts and a slice of pie for each of those present - she had a whole pie in her saddlebags, so she wasn't worried about running out - bottles of cider, and small bowls of Temmie Flakes, only to pause when one of the pastries she pulled out wrapped up by Muffet was one she didn't recognize.  "Huh...Cinnamon Bunny?  Aren't those from Snowdin?"  She glanced at Red, who'd perked up at the mention of it.  "Want it?" she offered.

"Those are my favorite..." Red murmured softly.

Smiling, Woona placed it on Red's plate.  The three were soon digging into the repast and chatting away.  Eventually, however, Woona decided to ask a question.  "So...where are we?"

Red lowered her gaze.  "We're near the edge of the Underground," she explained.  "Close to the edge of the Time-Space bubble that encloses the entire place, created by the barrier.  We're right on the edge of the Void."

"So that's why we ended up here when the shortcut failed halfway through," Chara murmured.  "The shortcuts work by creating void pockets, connecting discrete points in Space-Time.  There was enough magic to get us out of the Void, but not where we were going..."

"Well, we just gotta walk back then, right?" Woona offered.

"Bad idea," Red cautioned.  "The normal laws of space-time don't apply this close to the Void.  If you don't know exactly where you're going, you could fall into it and never come back out.  It takes most monsters years to learn the tricks of navigating out here."  She puffed her chest out a bit proudly.  "I mastered it in a few months, though."

"Then you could guide us back in?" Chara suggested.

"Unfortunately, no," Red countered.  "I've been stationed out here, and I can't abandon my post."

"What if your Captain gave you permission?" Woona suggested.

"...well, I suppose," Red admitted.  "But I don't know if she-"

Woona quickly pulled out her phone and dialed.  "Undyne?"

"WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?!" Undyne screamed through the phone, her voice reaching all the way to Chara and Red.  "Alphys has been in a panic ever since your shortcut collapsed before you made it out the other side!  She and Mettaton have been trawling the known void pits, Papyrus won't stop making his 'Regretti Spaghetti' - which is really salty, by the way - and Sans was about to take a Void Dive to try and find you!  Where are you?"

Woona rubbed at her ears as the shouting finally ended.  "Well, right now we're having a picnic with Red," she answered.

"Y...you're where?" Undyne responded, stunned.  "Wait...you mean you managed to make friends with her, too?  She was dead set against befriending anyone from the surface."

"Well, Chara did most of the work there."  Glancing between Red and Chara, Woona grinned impishly and whispered into the phone, "I think Chara's sweet on her."

Undyne burst into laughter.  "WAHAHAHAHA!  You don't say?  Isn't that interesting?  Well, you need to be getting back somehow.  I still haven't figured out how to find my way out there save by blind luck and magic spear trails, so..."

"Could you give Red permission to leave her post?" Woona asked.  "She could show us the way."

"Huh, I suppose she could," Undyne responded.  "Give her the phone."

Smiling, Woona floated the phone over to Red.  "It's for you."

Curiously, Red took the phone.  "Hello?"  She straightened almost immediately.  "Captain!  ...sir?  ...yes sir, I can do that!  Yes, I know the way there from here.  It's rather close actually, easy to reach.  Alright, I'll take them there.  Yes sir!"  Hanging up the phone, she handed it back to Woona.  "I'm to guide you back to New Home before taking a new post in the Core until your journey's finished."

"New Home, huh?" Chara asked softly.  "I remember that place.  I used to live there."  Noticing Woona letting out a yawn, he continued, "You can drop us off in my old room there, tucking Woona into my old bed so she can get some rest."

"I can do that," Red agreed, scooping Woona into her arms.  "This way."

Smiling, Chara floated alongside Red as she carried Woona back into normal space and up the path to a house that was almost identical to the one in the Ruins, save it was built of gray stone rather than purple.  "You're really good at spatial manipulation," he complimented.  "The only one I know who can do it cleaner is Sans."

"Captain Undyne says I'm a natural!" Red responded proudly, beaming with a grin from ear to ear.

Before long, they reached the room and Red tucked Woona in.  "See you later?" Chara asked her.

"...maybe," Red replied, turning to leave.

Hearing Chara sigh, Woona giggled to herself, the chance of her brother's happiness and the approaching end of her journey filling her with DETERMINATION.

 
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