Farewell, Part 1
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Last time on Nexus:
Last Will, Part 3

Elli opened her eyes. There was nothing in front of her. Nothing but sand. Miles and miles of nothing but sand, under a green sky with three moons giving light. One of them was in a state of crumbling. The second thing she noticed was that she had nothing on.

Dead clothes don't have pockets, sure, but she would have liked to have had any clothes on, because as she was now, Elli didn't like sand. It's coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere. Plus, it was pretty cold here…

Elli lifted off the ground briefly as a hairy foot the size of a battle cruiser stomped behind her.

Elli turned around and looked up.

She looked up some more.

And then some more…

"Oh, shi-," she muttered before she was crushed by the creature's other foot.

The Nexus shook and groaned under the strain imposed on it by the space-time continuum. Chloe had never experienced an earthquake in the Nexus. Furniture toppled, decorative objects wobbled off tables, and Ellis's bar clanked as if the bottles were cheering.

"CHLOE!" yelled Dean through the rumbling. "WHAT HAVE YOU DONE!"

Chloe, firmly anchored to the floor by her omnipotence, grimly grabbed Dean as he slid past her by a sudden change in gravity's direction. She didn't even falter in the process.

"I told you I'd go get Elli," she said. "I was connected to the entire universe, Dean. I know where she went. And that's where we're going now."

"Corbenic…," Dean snapped, stunned. "Chloe, you're trying to get to a place that doesn't want to be reached! Maybe a few people have managed to do that by accident but Corbenic is vastly different from other universes. Elli tried it, she told me. It almost destroyed the Nexus!"

"Am I Elli?" asked Chloe.

"No, but-"

"Then don't tell me I can't do something she can't do!"

The Nexus bucked harder and harder. Chloe felt something trying to crush the amalgamation of so many universes.

And failed.

With a sudden jolt, the Nexus came to a stop.

The Three Moons Initiative is an organization that has the welfare of humanity in all universes at heart. It has access to highly advanced technology and a military force that was probably unparalleled in the entire multiverse.

The only problem was that they were all dead.

The Initiative operated from Corbenic, the world of the dead, which no formerly living being could leave. But that wasn't much of a problem, because drones could still travel between universes. As far as other universes were concerned, right now, there was just a little… turmoil…

Sörensen, a pot-bellied and bearded technician for monitoring Corbenic's dimensional integrity, rang up a storm at the General Staff. Then, finally, they picked up.

" General Spiegel speaking, who's interrupting?", Sörensen was barked at through the receiver.

The technician nervously licked his lips before answering.

"H-Here is Sörensen from dimensional surveillance, ma'am."

"Dimensional Surveillance?" came from the receiver with moderate surprise. "What's going on, has a new Earth appeared?"

That was the real purpose of dimensional monitoring. Already three times in the history of Corbenic, Earths had teleported to this reality and each time there had been a war with the non-human inhabitants of the world. The Harvest Wars. To notice the arrivals of new Earths as early as possible and to react to them was Sörensen's job. Only, it wasn't an Earth that had been detected by his instruments this time.

"Uh, no, Ma'am," he said therefore. "Much worse… The Irregularity is here!"

Dead people have no need for food or drink, or even air. The problem is, habits don't go away easily, even if you've been dead for ten years.

Elli was in her small, two-story hut, which contained everything dead people needed. Or not. The black leather pants, leather shirt and the jacket, yes, the reader guesses correctly, made of black leather were unnecessary, for example, but people valued decorum even in death. And on shoes, like Elli's combat boots. She had stolen them from a soldier.

On the floor lay a used and flat mattress, in one corner stood a small table on which a still was set up, next to it were three bottles of homemade brandy.

Elli herself sat at a large table over a bowl of homemade cornflakes. She didn't have any milk, because milk was a luxury good, so in a fit of heresy she had poured the contents of a fourth bottle of brandy into it and was poking around in it testingly with a wooden spoon.

A jolt ran through the floor.

The jerks from the Initiative must have been testing a new weapon….

Elli continued poking for a while and finally took a spoonful from the bowl and brought it to her mouth.

The front door was suddenly covered by a black portal.

Chloe stepped out of it and looked around frantically until she caught sight of Elli.

She just looked frozen at the sight before her and dropped the spoon.

"ELLI!" screamed Chloe, running to her so fast she was almost thrown off her chair.

"Chloe!?" came Elli, aghast. "You're dead!?"

Chloe looked at her in confusion.

"What? No!"

Dean stepped out of the Nexus, carrying Elli's bag. The portal closed behind him.

"She left here right after you died," he explained. "By how much did she miss your arrival?"

"I've been here ten years," Elli explained, before it dawned on her that something was extremly wrong here. "Wait a minute… How the hell did you get here? I tried, back before… the end of the worlds thing…"

"Something tried to crush us, but the Nexus was too strong," Chloe explained.

Elli let that run through her mind. Obviously, someone had gone to great lengths to prevent her from getting here…. And she knew who…

But how had the Nexus been able to dock? Corbenic was different from normal universes. It existed beyond a chasm in existence that living people could not cross, just as conversely no dead people could leave Corbenic. Wait a minute…

"Dean," Elli demanded. "My purse."

Dean approached and handed Elli what she wanted. She rummaged around in it briefly and pulled out a small measuring device plus a small attachment with a needle on it. After putting the two together, she took Chloe's arm and pricked it. Chloe flinched briefly, but let it wash over her.

"Ah, I knew it…," Elli muttered. "Chloe's not completely human anymore."

"Uh, what?" asked Chloe.

"There are still traces of Ku's power left," Elli explained. "Besides a whole lot of divinity that you retained from Uriel, presumably it never left your body because you were formed into his vessel. You're part angel and part divine being."

Chloe looked concerned.

"Don't worry, there's nothing left to kill you, it's more like the residue in an overturned bottle," Elli added. "It just gives you some resistance to divine and demonic powers and something, what I might call 'angelic aura.' And you can still sizzle demons away. And you are still a living saint. But I doubt that normal people even notice that. Still, this unlikely combo acts like nitro on the Nexus, an upgrade, you might say…. You literally made the impossible possible. It probably made you come right out at me, too."

"Should I feel proud about that?"

"I don't know," was Ellis' honest reply.

"What are you eating, anyway?" asked Dean, eyeing Ellis' meal skeptically.

"Cornflakes with brandy," she replied. "It's almost impossible to get milk here because, nobody needs milk."

Dean's eyebrows drew together.

"And you eat cereal because?"

"Because I want to feel a little, well, alive again. Besides, just drinking brandy is boring. Isn't even good brandy, but I can't get better ingredients… Wait…"

She rummaged hopefully in her purse and dropped to her knees as she triumphantly held up her flask.

"Yes! Yes! YES!"

She unscrewed the flask and happily suckled on it. Her world was coming back into balance…

"Master, if you are already inviting your sex partners home, could you -" came from the stairs, but the sentence broke off.

Chloe and Dean turned their heads in surprise. They probably hadn't expected anyone else to live here. Recognition flashed in Chloe's eyes when she caught sight of Ellis's roommate.

"Are you Lin?" asked Dean. "Former servant of imperial concubine Li Mang1?"

"You?" escaped the former servant, for Dean had hit the mark.

She didn't look much older than when Elli had first met her.

"How did it come to this?" asked Dean of Elli.

Elli reluctantly broke away from her flask.

"Our good Lin here was unfortunately caught and beheaded by the imperial forces after her escape," she said.

"Ouh…" made Chloe.

Elli just grinned.

"But regardless of death, I keep my promises, don't I, Lin?"

Lin nodded hastily.

"Did you do something to her?" asked Dean.

"I knocked her out and planted some remote stun guns in her. Works wonders…"

Dean and Chloe raised an eyebrow in sync and concern.

"Don't you think you overdid it a little?" asked Dean cautiously.

"The little weasel tried to run away twice," Elli explained to him matter-of-factly. "Besides-"

The ground shook. Again and again in a strengthening rhythm.

"What's he doing here?" asked Lin Elli.

"I don't know, maybe we need to help him understand multiplication tables again," she guessed. "Aw, I'd love to say that conversations with this guy get on my throat, but luckily this thing regenerates all the time…"

She motioned the others to follow her out.

Chloe, at least, got wide-eyed.

Still about a kilometer away from them, a Strider was approaching.

Striders were yeti-like creatures about three kilometers tall with black fur that were native here in the Corbenic. Ellis' hut was near the entrance to the Valley of the Striders, at the beginning of the Great Desert, where the greenery gradually disappeared and large rocks were gradually ground into sand. Therefore, it was not uncommon for one to pass by, but usually they left Elli alone, except for this one. There were many other people living in the green overgrown valley to pass the time with, mostly by tearing off their limbs or crushing them, like a child tearing the wings off a fly. Of course, since the people down there were all dead, even the most serious injuries were not permanent, because the dead here had extreme regenerative powers that restored them even when they were just a pile of mud on the ground. Things were different, however, if the Striders ate them as a joke to digest them forever.

"Don't worry, he won't hurt us, but don't piss him off," Elli warned. "He can turn us to stone with his voice alone."

The Strider, meanwhile, had approached.

"BLONDI!" he rumbled happily.

He had a voice like an earthquake.

"GOMO!" roared Elli happily up at the hairy giant. "GET A CUDDLE!"

Dean and Chloe watched in amazement as a paw the size of a soccer field grabbed Elli between two fingers and lifted her up so Gomo could hold her against his chest with both hands.

This took a little while due to the titanic dimensions of the Strider, but then Elli realized that it was still going too fast. She was on a collision course…


A nauseating crack followed as Elli was crushed by Gomo. It wasn't enough to make her lose consciousness, unfortunately.

"OH, SORRY. WAS NOT INTENDED," the Titan apologized, placing Elli's twitching remains back on the ground.

The words reached her ear as if from far away, while her body reassembled itself properly with another crackling sound.

Chloe watched the whole thing with a face as white as her hair.

Gomo had gone down on one knee and was eyeing the newcomers, especially Chloe, curiously. True, children died on other worlds, but against the number of the rest of the dead, they were a rarity.


Elli frantically scrambled to her feet again, while Chloe stared in shock at the house-sized fingertip descending on her.

"WAIT, GOMO. THAT'S DANGEROUS!" yelled Elli up at him, stressed.

Sure enough, the finger came to a stop two meters above the girl.

"WHY, BLONDI?" asked Gomo.


"I think I'm gonna shit myself…" whimpered Chloe quietly under his finger.

But then, thankfully, Strider pulled it away.

"OH, SHAME," Gomo grumbled dejectedly. "WHAT ABOUT THE BIG ONE?"


"UIH!" Gomo rejoiced.

"How did you make friends with that guy?" asked Dean emphatically quietly from the side.

"Remember the memetic trigger phrases I use in Chloe's classes and in dangerous situations to placate people2?" whispered Elli back. "Those things are deviantly effective against Striders."

Elli realized they had been distracted. Gomo had come to them for something, because Striders didn't just drop by for a chat. They came either to rip and trample people or to eat them. Or in Ellis' case, because he had questions.

"WHAT'S THE HAPPENING, GOMO?" she asked aloud.

"AH," it came from above like an avalanche. "BLONDI, GOMO WANTS TO KNOW WHY THE FLAPP-FLAPPS WANT TO SEE YOU?"

"Flapp-Flapps?" asked Dean.

"He means helicopters," Elli translated, and, turning to Gomo, added, "HOW DO YOU KNOW THEY WANT TO COME TO ME?"


Strider pointed to the right, sure enough, a small squadron of gunships was approaching from there. Elli didn't even have to look closely to know they were from the Three Moons Initiative. That so many came wasn't surprising, after all, they had to keep the Striders at bay, but Elli wondered how they had found her. She was one of the Initiative's greatest desires, thanks to her wealth of knowledge, so she had done everything she could to remain undiscovered, which was why she lived so far away from other people. But at least since she had unsuccessfully tried to steal the alcohol from the Elephant King of the Marble Halls, the Initiative knew of her presence in Corbenic. Because of that, and probably because of the one-night stands….

Then it dawned on her. They weren't targeting her directly, they were targeting Chloe. Because she had brought the Nexus here.

"Chloe, Dean, get back to the Nexus," she ordered.

"What about you?" asked Chloe. "I came all the way here for you."

"My time is up, Chloe," Elli replied. "I could certainly leave Corbenic with the Nexus, but to what end? I don't belong in your world anymore."

"You didn't before," Chloe returned. "And yet you did everything you could to help me and Dean."

Elli clicked her tongue and avoided looking at Chloe.

"We'll discuss this later, for now go until those idiots leave, GO!"

"I can't, Elli."

Elli gritted her teeth.


Chloe interrupted her.

"No, Elli, you don't understand, I can't get a portal to the Nexus to open!"


The helicopters were overhead.

"GOMO, THEY ARE BAD GUYS," Elli shouted over the noise of the engines. "PLEASE SAVE US!"

"GOMO DOESN'T LIKE FLAPP-FLAPPS!" the Strider roared in a child-like rage, yelling at the helicopters in a voice that turned everything in front of him to stone.

One of the flying machines, along with its crew, fell to the ground not only like, but as a stone, before the others aimed some sort of loudspeaker at Gomo.

Anti-wave generators. They made sure that Gomo's roar no longer reached them by generating an anti-wave for each sound wave.

With all the guns on board, all but one of the helicopters then opened fire on the Strider, which was thrown backwards by the sheer force.

The last helicopter landed next to Ellis' cabin and spat out six soldiers in white tactical gear. Their white helmets had black visors and seemingly every piece of clothing bore the ☽☽☽ symbol.

"☽☽☽ INITIATIVE, ON THE GROUND!" one of them rumbled over the din of the ongoing bombardment on Gomo.

Lin threw herself lengthwise.

"Lin, that are pacifiers," Elli noted dryly. "Mortal rounds, they just sting a little."

"They pierce their targets!" came from the ground.

"And on top of that, what about Chloe?" asked Dean from the side.

"Do you see her anywhere?" asked Elli.

Dean looked around for a moment. As Elli had noticed earlier, Chloe was no longer there, hiding behind a large boulder next to the cabin.

"Hmm, nope."

Elli took a sip from her flask.

"GET A MOVE ON!" the soldier bellowed.

"Okay, first of all," Elli began. "Don't take that tone with me, buddy. Second, what's your problem? I was just having a nice chat with my friend there," she pointed at the Strider, who was backing away under bomb impacts, "and then suddenly you asshats come plopping out of the sky."

The soldiers looked at each other before turning back to Elli.

"We have evidence that a dimensional transition forbidden by JALAKÅRA himself, may he be forever praised, has occurred here. We are here to apprehend those responsible and bring them to justice."

"Did you see a portal to another universe here, Dean?" asked Elli.

Dean shook his head truthfully.

"Then you can march back to your helicopter and piss off. Then maybe I'll forgive you for what you're doing to poor Gomo right now. You scared the shit out of him."

Elli was perfectly aware that she had yelled an attack order, but knowing the Initiative's machines, they hadn't heard that over the engine noise.

"Aw, what the hell," the soldiers' spokesman muttered. "Shoot 'em down."

Dean was still smart enough to drop forward to avoid the bullets, but Elli took seven bullets to the head and torso.

The world began to spin around her as her brain suddenly rearranged its neural pathways while the bullet holes were already closing.

Elli fell backward. She felt herself being handcuffed.

"Search!" someone shouted.

It took a few moments for her wounds to heal, but then Elli heard Chloe's startled squeal. She tried to rebel but was hit in the temple with a rifle butt.

Elli fell to the ground again. Stars danced before her eyes.

Then there was loud shouting. She saw Chloe being dragged to the helicopter, and a huge shadow descending over her. The helicopter took off.

And Elli was crushed under something big.

The advantage to leather is you don't see the blood stains as clearly and it doesn't get penetrated by protruding bones as easily.

Elli recomposed herself and heard Lin moaning next to her.

She sat up when her spine allowed her to again.

Gomo replaced the sky above her and watched with scientific interest as she regenerated.

She was in a depression, left by the Strider's hand. Dean seemed to have still managed to land between his fingers, for he was intact and about two feet in altitude above her.

But Chloe was gone.

They had just met again and already these blokes had shown up, thinking they were so much better than the rest of the universe. Anger boiled up inside Elli….

"FfffffffffffFFFFFF-" she fumed, but didn't manage to finish her curse as Gomo spoke up.


"OH, THANK YOU FOR YOUR ASSESSMENT!", Elli yelled up at him in annoyance, unwittingly risking being eaten by him.

But luckily, Gomo was too fond of her for that.

"What was that?" asked Dean from above.

"That, Dean, were probably the most pretentious assholes in the multiverse," Elli nagged. "The Three Moons Initiative thinks it's something like the Samaritan of humanity. It believes that its and only its way of life is the right one. Accordingly, all dead people picked up by it are also punished or rewarded by a committee for their life choices. Would only be half as bad if they didn't have a god to sponsor them and technology even more advanced than the SKP's."

"Ouh…" Dean went on. "So what do we do now?"

"Well, what do you think?" snapped Elli. "What we've always done. We're going to get Chloe back. She'll probably get shipped off to one of the moons, after all, it's the oh-so-saintly-I-could-shit-myself JALAKÅRA who's literally pulling the strings here. FUCK YOU, YOU OVERSIZED TARANTULA!"

There was silence for a moment, however Elli didn't seem to be experiencing any divine retribution, so she continued to rant.

"Probably stopped Chloe from opening the Nexus…"

Dean raised an eyebrow.

"A god can block the Nexus?" he asked.

"If its user is inexperienced, yes," Elli countered. "It takes some practice to master Nexus portals. But so be it. In itself, the daddy-long-legs has already won, but I still have an ace up my sleeve. But for that, I need to talk to the Eternal President."

"But he's in the Impenetrable, too," Lin replied. "How are you going to get up there, Master? That fortress is light years away from us."

"First, I don't have to go all the way to Impenetrable, I just have to get to one of the moons. And second, Lin, I am not going up there," Elli said grimly. "We are going up there. And I already know how. GOMO!"

"YES!" came from above.


"YAY!" the Strider rejoiced as Lin began to cry and scream.

"Oh no, not the Witch Queen!"


Next time on Nexus:
Farewell, Part 2

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